The August Owlcrate theme was “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Usually, I try to predict the book ahead of time by looking at Owlcrate’s Goodreads ratings. But this month, however, I guessed incorrectly the book. I thought it was going to be Wicked Like a Wildfire because “wicked” was in the title. Instead, it was The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones, which was a nice surprise.
Desperate to escape her home life, Dee sells her heart to a demon, only to learn the demon needs her help in destroying mysterious portals. Teaming up with three other heartless teens, Dee completes these missions and tries to figure out the demon’s end goal with the portals and what it means to be heartless.
When I originally read the synopsis, I thought of Supernatural. Deals with demons, heartless teenagers, monsters—it sounded right up that dark and spooky alley. While reading, I still felt Supernatural vibes (and a hint of the Mortal Instruments) but on a much smaller scale. The Hearts We Sold is much more lighter and, dare I say, happier. Just because it’s lighter, though, doesn’t mean it didn’t dive into darker subjects because it definitely did. It was the monster-y parts such as the knitting-loving demon, the not-so heartless teenagers, and the creepy Demogorgon-esque creatures that weren’t dark enough to scare me away. I thought the story would be about heartless teens trying to find the ability to feel, to love, to care. But it wasn’t really like that.
Instead this book focuses on the unfortunate lives of the heartless teens. Teens who were kicked out of their homes, teens dealing with alcoholic and abusive parents, teens who have no other options in life than to sell their hearts to a demon in exchange for something they need. It was an interesting, unexpected story that I didn’t think I would like. (I’m not always a fan of “demon” stories.) But I did. It was a mostly simple and actually fun read. (The portals/dead spaces were a little bizarre and hard to understand, and I’m still not entirely sure about all of that.) The repetition of “I chose this” was an empowering statement, showing Dee’s character progression over the series. I was rooting for her to step up and make changes in her life, to make herself happy. And she did. I think it’s an important message for a YA novel to make.
I also enjoyed the characters and how much depth was given to each one, even side characters like Dee’s roommate or a heartless teen that only appears in the latter half of the book. A lot of issues were addressed and the whole “deal with a demon” aspects made me stop and think. What would I be willing to part with to find happiness?
The ending of the book left me a little out of sorts, which makes it hard for me to truly express how I feel about it. Without giving away too much, I think I wanted more closure to the story. It wrapped up quickly, and I feel there could be more to this story. (So far, it’s a standalone.)
This book does include mature content, including profanity, death, and sex so I would recommend it to older teens and even college-age readers. I think it could appeal to a wide audience, people who enjoy urban fantasy, people who like depth in their characters, people who want to read sad stories that rip your heart out. It’s a mixture of contemporary, mythology, fantasy, folklore, and even science fiction. It’s a weird and wicked little book, and I’m glad I read it.