Publication Date: 03/28/17
Author: Ira Bloom
Sisters Esme, Katy, and Ronnie are smart, talented, and gorgeous, and better yet . . . all three are witches. They have high school wired until the arrival of two new students. The first is Norman, who is almost eight feet tall and appears to be constructed of bolts and mismatched body parts. Despite his intimidating looks, Esme finds herself strangely — almost romantically — drawn to both his oversized brain and oversized heart.
The second new arrival is Zack, an impossibly handsome late transfer from the UK who has the girls at school instantly mesmerized. Soon even sensible Esme has forgotten Norman, and all three sisters are in a flat-out hex war to win Zack. But while the magic is flying, only Norman seems to notice that students who wander off alone with Zack end up with crushed bones and memory loss. Or worse, missing entirely.
The YA novel Hearts and other Body Parts by Ira Bloom was immensely satisfying for an urban fantasy lover such as myself to read. It featured vampires, witches, a take on Frankenstein’s monster, and, of course, the ever lovable, yet diabolically evil demon cat Kasha (so basically a normal cat). Yet, somehow, Ira Bloom managed to weave these characters into a complex and completely interrelated story with the dual morals of “Don’t trust the new kid who everyone is mysteriously falling in love with” and “learn how to lawyer your way out of accidentally selling your soul to a Yiddish speaking demon”.
The plot of this book engaged me, however I was pleasantly surprised by how much the characters hooked me as well. The author didn’t just define the characters based on what they were so much as by who they were, which is very much appreciated in a genre where supernatural related stereotypes often occur (hot, dark, and brooding vampires, quirky and unpopular witches, big and dumb zombies). In fact, this book was, in large part, about being seen for who you are rather than what you are and what you look like. The only critique I have to give is that each of the characters clearly excelled at one thing, and was often defined by that one thing. While that didn’t make dislike any of the characters, in fact it helped me get a sense of who they were, the characters would have been slightly more dynamic had they been given a larger and more diverse set of strengths and weaknesses. But I digress.
What made me truly love this book, besides the Japanese corpse eating demon cat, was the situation with the love interest. He wasn’t beautiful, but he was smart, and caring, and a good friend. However, just like in real life, sometimes that isn’t enough. I love how Ira Bloom didn’t shove the message of “it’s what’s inside that counts” down our throats, yet at the same time gave us a natural connection between two people that is both realistic and gratifying. I can’t say more without spoiling the book, but suffice it to say, the ending was satisfying.
This book definitely has darker elements within it, yet remains a fun and enjoyable read. I highly recommend it to teen urban fantasy lovers, and hope a sequel is in the works!