A supernatural mystery, relatable three-dimensional characters, a slow-burn love story, your beating heart in its clutches… The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones has it all.
About ‘The Hearts We Sold’ by Emily Lloyd-Jones
When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a devil — her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life — she soon finds her trade may be 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 ever could have 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 like love grows between them amidst an otherworldly ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: can she give James her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?
‘The Hearts We Sold’ review
I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up The Hearts We Sold. It was given to me by a fellow Hypable writer with the message “I think you’ll like this.” The only thing I knew about the book was what I read in its intriguing summary.
But honestly, I didn’t need to know anything because I was hooked from the very first chapter.
The Hearts We Sold is a gripping novel that focuses on the lives and obligations of a group of teens that loaned their hearts to a demon (who’s referred to in the novel as the Daemon) to get what they want. But this book is so much more than that because it focuses on the absence of their hearts rather than the presence of what they people wished for. In fact, they not only loaned their hearts; they essentially signed themselves up to do the Daemon’s bidding for two years. In similar books, the story would center on the notion of “be careful what you wish for” but that just isn’t the case here. The message is more like “what would you be willing to give up?”
And if that idea isn’t enough, the Daemon’s deal throws even more questions at the teens and the reader, creating a slightly tangled web of mysteries that only begins to really unravel at the halfway point. I will say that, although there are some unanswered questions about the central mystery and premise as the novel progresses, the story appears to head in one direction before taking an unexpected turn and veering down another path. The Hearts We Sold is worth reading if not just for the book’s mysterious situation itself.
But honestly, what really makes this book as impressive as it is are the characters. Every character, both within the circle of heartless teens and without, is vibrant and memorable. They all have distinct and fascinating personalities that it’s almost a shame that this book wasn’t stretched into a series. While I don’t think the plot would’ve held up well across multiple books, there would’ve easily been enough material about each character to fill ten books.
The true standouts are Dee, the novel’s protagonist, and James, the novel’s
heartthrob male lead. Dee is by no definition extraordinary in nature. She comes from an abusive home and just tries to fly under the radar. Her unwillingness to connect to others or even a lot of the world around her because she’s been abused and taken advantage of in the past makes the reader really feel for her.
James is the slightly tortured, “carpe diem” artist type who’s incredibly kind but lonely. The novel provides a few flash backs for his character, but what you see with James is really what you get. It’s honestly hard not to fall in love with him from his very first appearance.
But as much as I love these two characters as individuals, it’s the two of them coming together and even just interacting that absolutely kills me (but in the best way possible). Dee and James’ chemistry is perfect. Though their relationship doesn’t take all that much time to blossom, it never feels rushed. The two are slight outcasts who have some darkness in their pasts and just fit together.
I’ll be honest with you: In my opinion, the best romances in novels are the ones that make me yearn to be in the couple’s shoes. The ones that make my heart ache because I’m still single and they have what I’ve been dreaming about. The ones where their interactions are so well-written and detailed that it feels like I’m the girl in the relationship and I can feel every touch and heart-flutter (or, well, in this case, lack thereof). The Hearts We Sold succeeds in all of these ways and more (which makes the things they go through so heart-wrenching).
As far as my “this book will rip your heart out” tease, I don’t want to ruin things for anyone more than I might’ve already, but I will just say this: This novel grabs hold of your heart from the very beginning and doesn’t hesitate to torture you from time to time. (It’s actually pretty ironic given that this is a story about heartless people.) But be prepared to permanently yield a few pieces of your heart to Emily Lloyd-Jones’ expertly-crafted writing.
The Hearts We Sold is a beautiful and effective piece of storytelling that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it. The characters are both memorable and relatable, and the plot is incredibly original and intriguing. It’s just one of those books that you won’t be able to stop yourself from finishing in a single sitting. It’s just that good and you’ll enjoy it just that much.
Really. Cross my heart.