Ivy and her boyfriend are driving home from a party to kick off the beginning of summer break when a strange girl appears in the middle of the road. She’s naked and unafraid, and she seems to recognize Ivy. After this, even more strange things start to happen. Ivy finds a decapitated rabbit in her driveway, and that night at the dinner table, her mom, Dana, spits a rabbit’s tooth out of her mouth. Dana seems increasingly upset by the disturbing string of events—until she disappears, leaving Ivy to figure out what’s going on, protect her family, unearth her mother’s secrets and discover her own true identity.
Alternating between “the suburbs, right now” and “the city, back then,” Our Crooked Hearts unravels both Dana’s and Ivy’s stories. As a teenager in Chicago, Dana experiments with witchcraft and gets in over her head. Twenty-five years later, Ivy must deal with the catastrophic results. Readers will be enchanted as the two young women’s storylines hurtle toward each other, past and present colliding in a supernatural climax that will transform mother and daughter completely.
Melissa Albert (The Hazel Wood) delivers the twisted fairy-tale magic that fans of her Hinterland novels have come to love, along with sharp prose, dark family secrets and a captivating coming-of-age journey for its teenage protagonist. Albert expertly blends mundane high school drama (romantic break-ups, getting grounded, navigating crushes) with black magic (a jar of dirt and blood that Dana buries in the backyard, the mysterious rippling visions in Ivy’s mirror, the aforementioned rabbit). Presented against the vividly rendered and decidedly realistic backdrops of 1990s Chicago and present-day suburbia, all of these elements come together to create a truly bewitching novel.
Every gripping chapter of Our Crooked Hearts is packed with suspense, spellbinding prose and impossible decisions. Despite their otherworldly proclivities, Albert’s dimensional characters feel wholly believable as they grapple with questions of protection, betrayal, friendship and the price of power.