Review: When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling

February 20, 2015 3 stars, Book Review 8 ★★★

Review: When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia StirlingWhen My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling
Published by Scholastic Press on February 24, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

"I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins.

But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good."

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She's a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter's heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the "old" Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?


When My Heart Was Wicked had me questioning at times if magic in this book was supposed to be real or if we were supposed to view Lacy as an unreliable narrator due to her troubled circumstances what with her father’s recent death and her being uprooted from the home she felt secure in, back to a life with her real mother whom she has a very troubled history with. The reason I didn’t know quite what to expect was because the book description on the back of the book I received was very sparse and really had more focus on her father then what we could expect from reading the story. Because of that I felt like I was waiting for things to happen when really its just a slice of life type book focused on Lacy’s troubled teen life and that in itself is the plot – dealing with life (and throw in some magic).

A quick cap of the highlights

– Lacy’s who had been living with her father and step mom the past 3 years is now being uprooted and moved to Sacramento to live with her real mother as her father has recently past away from cancer. I had decided to read this one because I noticed that the book takes place in the same city I live and that the author is from Sacramento as well.
– Lacy fears her mother and was mentally and physically abused by her during childhood not to mention some extreme neglect. Think cigarette burns, no food in the house, being left alone for days on end. That sort of thing.
– Some themes you can expect to see: bullying, sexual assault, self abuse(cutting) and substance abuse.
– The book centers around Lacy’s identity crisis and how she literally feels like a completely different (bad) person when she’s around her mom.
– There is lots of time spent in school, finding and making or not making new friends, and some time with a newly found confidant that happens to be her mother’s childhood friend.

To me When My Heart Was Wicked was essentially a “slice of troubled teen life” book focused around coping with various strong issues most of which were family and identity related. While it was an ok read I think this book would be better matched with readers who enjoy contemporary teen fiction as I frequently thought the magic aspect wasn’t real and just a figment of Lacy’s troubled teen psyche.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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8 Responses to “Review: When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling”

  1. Ashana Lian .

    Ooo, what a curious book. The fight between her ‘good’ half and her ‘evil’ half sounds like Half Bad by Sally Green. Also the aspects that you said sounds like they might or might not be real reminds me of Among Others by Jo Walton, which had some very interesting magic aspects, but you couldn’t entirely be sure if it was in the narrator’s head. =/
    This does sound interesting, although I’ve decided not to add it to my TBR list because I’m in need of some intense adventure magic possibly-superhero fantasy right now. And yet… who knows? It may end up on there later. Thanks for sharing this.
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