The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

f5

5 stars

The Hearts We Sold is a delightful paranormal novel about choosing your own path in life.

Dee Moreno makes a deal with a daemon–selling her heart for two years in exchange for money so she can go to school and escape her emotionally abusive home life.

But selling her heart ends up being a bigger commitment than she expects, and Dee finds herself as part of a mismatched group of people wielding explosives and fighting off monsters in otherworldly places.

One of their ragtag group is James Lancer, a charming artist who captures Dee’s attention. But how can she love when she’s has no heart to give?

Here’s the official summary:

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

I was so surprised with this book. I was very hesitant to get into it, snatching it off the library new release shelf at the very last second.

I’m a full blown wimp. If I had to choose between reading a horror novel and not reading, I just wouldn’t read.

Paranormal is slightly different, but sometimes it gets a lot darker than I’m used to and makes my skin crawl. I’m all for RAH RAH BLOOD GORE MURDER darkness, but creepy demons and stuff are not really my alley. I’m better with lots of fun character deaths.

The moral of this aside is that paranormal is not a genre I’m a huge fan of. (It’s also why I have such a hard time getting into City of Bones because it’s so paranormal.)

But I absolutely LOVED The Hearts We Sold. I definitely did not expect this. There’s a few reasons for this.

  1. It wasn’t that creepy. There are demons and stuff, but it’s not like some demon is going to creep up on you at night and suck your soul (I don’t really know how demons work don’t judge me). The aura was a little haunting, but it wasn’t like walking into an abandoned mansion.
  2. The demons are nice. Nice as in cool and nice as in kind(ish). Sure, they’re kind of unnatural (they can’t just be human), but it’s not like they turn into weird creatures or something. They look human, act pretty human, and my scaredy-cat senses weren’t going “MAYDAY MAYDAY.”
  3. This book is actually kind of sci fi. How? I can’t spoil this. But you learn it actually has a lot of sci fi elements, which was like the ice cream on the pie for me. It made it a whole less chilling because, well, science. Science is not weird tingly unexplainable. Science is fun 🙂

So the first plus of this novel was that I didn’t run away screaming like the wimp I am.

And then we add all the other pluses and just end up getting ∞

It’s told in third person which I thoroughly enjoyed, and the main character made sense to me.

Dee isn’t portrayed as some irrational, hormonal teenage girl. I could relate really well to her because of how closed off she is to other people. She doesn’t make many stupid decisions based off of her emotion of the moment, but does a lot of smarter, long term ones.

She doesn’t sell her heart to get a guy to like her or something silly like that; she sells it for money so she can attend school and escape her bad home life & its emotional abuse.

That’s definitely uncommon in YA. School being portrayed as a good thing? Blasphemy!

But it is. Dee recognizes how important school is which I find is totally awesome (and even though it can be annoying sometimes, it’s 100% worth it).

I found her character enjoyable and not annoying, which is good of any female main protagonist.

Likewise, she made smart romance decisions. There’s no “hot guy ➝ instalove ➝ let’s have sex!” and the romance is artfully done for a modern teenage level. It’s slower and more real because the chances of teenagers falling in love like instant rise yeast is small.

This is a more plot-based novel, and I found it really enjoyable to follow. The Hearts We Sold is around 300-something pages so it’s not super long and it’s got a good pace.

The climax is intense, the buildup grows in intensity, the resolution is slowed down and it ends well. This book is a standalone which means you don’t have to agonize for a year (or two) waiting for a sequel. It’s wrapped up nicely with a nice little bow.

The foreshadowing was built up very well and went hand in hand with the increasing intensity and pacing. I find the premise of the novel really cool, and the paranormal to sci fi switch was awesome.

Oh the plot twists! They were priceless and I’m still reeling by how I didn’t see them sooner. I have to admit, I did tear up a tad when reading this, and it’s got this all-over darker atmosphere, but nothing too intense.

All in all, I found The Hearts We Sold to be an amazing paranormal-sci fi standalone that I would recommend to anyone who like fantasy, sci fi, or (of course) paranormal. It’s a great introduction to the paranormal genre for beginners like myself and was artfully written.

much love, vicky

Have you read The Hearts We Sold? I know it was the August Owlcrate pick, which was super cool to find out!

P.S. I used this as my horror square in Fall 2017 Bookish Bingo. I think this counts as horror (it’s marked that way by a few people on Goodreads, so…)

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