When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a devil–her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life–she 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 is a Faustian tale for the modern age that will steal your heart and break it, and leave you begging for more.
THE HEARTS WE SOLD by Emily Lloyd-Jones is told in alternating points of view in third person past tense. The novel primarily follows Deirdre “Dee” Moreno and her heartless friends James, Cora, Cal, and her roommate Gremma. While I’m not usually a fan of contemporary novels, THE HEARTS WE SOLD had just enough of a paranormal twist to keep me interested. Most of the story takes place in Portland, Oregon, with a few scenes in Rome, Italy, and even a beach house. Portland lends itself to the dreary and haunted feeling of the story, though honestly the story could’ve been set anywhere.
In this world, there are demons that will grant a wish in exchange for body parts. These demons are relatively benevolent, meaning they won’t harm humans either for themselves or for wishes. However, there is one demon that Dee meets early on called the Agathodemon (the kids call him the Daemon) who doesn’t take toes or legs or arms—he takes hearts. We don’t learn what the demons use the body parts for until later in the book, so I’ll leave that as a surprise for you to discover.
I related to Dee on many levels and I think most young women would, too. She deals with an abusive home life and desires nothing more than to do well in school so she can go to college and never look back. And because of that relationship with her parents, she doesn’t trust other people, especially not in any meaningful way, thus she doesn’t feel worthy of love.
So it’s an interesting juxtaposition when she bargains her heart for money—to continue going to boarding school, for college—and has to rely on others for her survival. As the story unfolds, we find out why the Daemon creates heartless teenagers. When Dee becomes heartless, she discovers a whole world she never knew existed. As the teenagers fight against supernatural forces the demons are attempting to destroy, Dee grows close with James, Cal, and Cora, while trying to balance her new life with her old one by keeping Gremma off her trail. Eventually her two worlds collide, and it’s a look into how people deal with reconciling disparate parts of themselves.
I enjoyed the storyline and the characters, especially Dee. Though I’ve enjoyed a very privileged life so far, I was able to understand Dee’s motivations through Lloyd-Jones’s prose and characterization. Another character I really enjoyed was Gremma—a young woman who knows exactly who she is and doesn’t care if other people don’t like her. She’s a great role model for girls and young women alike. What teenager wouldn’t long for some self-confidence during the most tumultuous time of their lives?
THE HEARTS WE SOLD is a story about identity and finding one’s place in the world. It is also about the power of friendships and learning to trust people even when your every instinct and every past experience tells you not to. This isn’t the first book by Lloyd-Jones that I’ve read, and it likely won’t be the last. Her prose is concise and easy to understand, while also touching many emotional chords.
Title: THE HEARTS WE SOLD
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
Pub Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: YA paranormal fantasy
Links: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Goodreads