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 WickedFeatured
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.
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.