Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, death, grief, scene of depression, anxiety, scene of body shaming, verbal abuse, scene of assault, alcoholism/alcohol abuse, trauma/PTSD, scene/talk of terminal illness
“She was a girl held together by knitted yarn and magic.”
Dee Moreno hasn’t had the easiest life and things just got worse when she gets the news that the boarding school has to give up her scholarship. Without the proper funds and a family who refuse to help, Dee has run out of options. So naturally the logical thing to do is make a pact with a demon. But everything comes with a price, Dee just doesn’t know it…yet.
Friends, I adore Emily Lloyd-Jones’ writing and the tales she weaves. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous that I wasn’t going to love this as much as I was hoping I would. However, I’m pleased to say that Emily has a fantastic way of tugging on my heart strings and capturing my attention when I least expect it! I loved the characters, I loved the way my emotions were heightened at the end of this book, and there were so many moments that truly caught me off guard. If this tells you anything, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for future works by Emily because I truly love the way she creates a story and I love the she can pull me in to her stories.
The Hearts We Sold is about a girl named Dee who has run out of all options. Her parents aren’t the best support system, she about to lose her scholarship at the boarding school she goes to, and her college funds her grandmother left her are locked away until she turns of age. With no other options, Dee seeks out the demon from the hospital she volunteers at. She makes a pact with the demon; in exchange for funding to stay after her boarding school, she will leasing her heart to the demon for two years and joins his heartless troops in sealing portals/rifts.
❤️ Dee – Main character, worked hard all her life to attend her boarding school, comes from a toxic home life
❤️ James – Artist, childlike and quiet one of the group, this is his second troop
❤️ Cal – Prodigy and genius, bomb expert of the group, has really fascinating theories, gave up his heart for a noble cause
❤️ Cora – Troop leader, very secretive, never talks about her pact with the demon, gets her heart back in two months
Important Side Characters
❤️ Daemon – Contacts the troop with information on the rifts/portals, secretive, cares about humanity and his troops
❤️ Gemma – Dee’s roommate and best friend, lesbian, and a total badass
❤️ Riley – Replacement for Cal, bomb expert, transgender, Gemma’s girlfriend
“I chose this.”
I loved a lot of the themes in this book. There is a heavy focus on parental abuse throughout this entire book. I think this is one of the first fantasy books that I’ve read that address how parents can be verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive. It really shines a light on how abuse comes in many forms and the toll it takes on the people involved. There are bits and pieces of physical abuse throughout this book as well, however, it doesn’t out shine the other forms of abuse. This book also shows how abuse and alcoholism can go hand-in-hand with one another. As someone who has lived a similar home life that our main character Dee has, I can say that this accurately depicts the reality many children in the world face. How parents will choose the addiction of the bottle over the well-being of their family. It’s very rare that I see this is fantasy or even in YA in general. Knowing there’s a book like The Hearts We Sold is out there shining a light on that sparks some hope in my soul.
This book also hits home with shining a light on how your parents’ problems aren’t your responsibility and that sometimes you have to make the choice of choosing yourself over family. It really stresses the importance of getting away from that kind of environment and situation. It also shows how not everyone can get away (Dee wasn’t even able to leave her family right away either), but you can’t allow yourself to be stuck taking care of your abusers. However, this is the reality for many out in the world. I truly wasn’t expecting this book to hit the reality I underwent as a child and teenager. There were so many of these moments that were highlighted and weren’t easy to get through. I sobbed so much because it was like looking through a window to my past and for many who read this, your own reality.
And of course, we have to talk about the amazing representation in this book! I stated above about Gemma and Riley, but they truly great characters. Not just for their lgbtq+ representation, but also their background as well. Gemma comes from a very supportive family and she even had a great coming out. While Riley’s life highlights the struggles many transgender teens face with parents not being understanding or accepting of their choice. We also have great anxiety representation. Throughout this book, Dee is in a constant state of anxiety and really shows how the the little things can be triggering for someone with anxiety. I really loved the representation and being able to see the anxiety take on many forms throughout this book.
“She reached down, found his hand with hers. Their fingers tangled, wrists pressed together. No pulse between them.”
The ending of this book was probably my favorite thing throughout this whole story. The way everything unfolded was so beautiful and so heart wrenching that I was in tears when I finished this. Not to mention, I truly believe that just from the way this book ended, a sequel could be written. I truly was a beautiful surprise and I think many readers will fall in love with how it ended.
I also have to say how happy I am that this book subtly shows the found families element into this book. It’s very subtle, but it’s there and this books shows how important it is to have that. I loved that The Hearts We Sold put a spotlight on how important it is to have people in your life who truly love you unconditionally. Watching Dee realize that, it was one of the best things to watch unfold in this book.
However, there’s two things this book had that really prevented me from giving this book a five star. I will keep this as spoiler free as I possibly can because I do feel that these two pieces are spoilers. One of the heartless troops undergoes a great deal of trauma and stress. This whole situation ends up leading to a chain of events that turn out really shitty. This character’s actions are never addressed and the other heartless troops just have to conclude that even though this character did a terrible thing, literally having a psychological breakdown and going off the deep end without trying to think things through, they have to support that character and just accept that they’re all in it together. These events bring a whole new level of the heavy mood this book already delivers. If all of this had played out in another way, I think I would be okay, but all of these chain events just really left me with mixed feelings and I couldn’t see past all the horrible actions that were taken by the one character.
“This was how normal people survived their own fairy tales. They became their own kind of monster.”
Overall, I truly did enjoy this book. I really loved how Emily included the bits of Lovecraftian world-building into this book, I loved the detail that was spent on Dee’s relationship, and I really loved the bit where Gemma pulled out an axe! There was just some really great things about this book that I truly loved and it left me feeling very soft. I definitely think many readers will like this book for the fall season, but also struggle with some on the contents within this book. Either way, I hope more readers give this book a chance!
Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends ❤️