When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling
Published February 24, 2015 by Scholastic Press
Hardcover, 192 pages
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A magical and haunting story that will leave you in wonder, WHEN MY HEART WAS WICKED is Tricia Stirling’s debut novel.
Lucy wasn’t always the good girl. She didn’t always wear cute clothes and smile at strangers on the street. When Lucy is forced to move downstate to Chico with her mother, who was recently released from prison, everything about her life changes. Lucy must face the darkness in her mother, and within herself.
With strong, concise writing and well-developed characters, WICKED is a pleasure to read. The prose is delightful, twisting and winding around the plot to move the story forward in the most interesting and fantastical ways. I loved the descriptions of nature, the intricate spell-castings and clever balance between reality and fantasy that Lucy is constantly struggling to maintain. Is Lucy’s mother crazy for believing in the magic, or is it all real? I think it’s clear that there is magic in Lucy’s world, but another reader could make an entirely different interpretation, and I might believe them. Is it magical realism, or urban fantasy? The answer is up to the reader, and if uncertainty leaves you irritated, then this might not be the book for you.
I wanted nothing more from this story. Everything is contained in less than 200 pages, and that is a result of Stirling’s skilled writing. Every word matters, every sentence was carefully constructed, and every adjective could have several meanings. The complex yet concise writing lends a depth to the story that you wouldn’t expect from such a small book.
Highly recommended for those looking for a complex and haunting story of self-discovery and coping with change, WHEN MY HEART WAS WICKED is a strong, nuanced debut.