In a moment of desperation, Dee Moreno makes a decision that will change her life forever in The Hearts We Sold, a YA paranormal novel by Emily Lloyd-Jones.
“I chose this.”
Dee is a boarding school student who is about to lose her scholarship, and she can’t go home. Returning to her abusive father and tempestuous home life would be nothing short of a nightmare. Willing to do anything for money, Dee realizes there is one place she can turn: the demons. Otherworldly, mysterious beings with untold power, demons allow humans to make a deal in exchange for one body part. Expecting to have to give up a hand or leg, Dee finds the Agathodaemon. He then surprises her by explaining that his deals are a bit… different.
For two years, he will possess Dee’s heart, and as long as he does, Dee will work for him, coming when called and doing as she’s told. When the two years are up, he’ll return her heart, and Dee will be free to go. Seeing no other options, Dee agrees to the contract, and quickly finds herself in over her head. Fighting against fantastical horrors with a group of other “heartless” teenagers, she then finds herself falling hard and fast for James Lancer, a charming and carefree young artist who’s been with the Agathodaemon for some time. But can Dee afford to fall in love when her heart is no longer hers to give?
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This book is just… wow. I read it for the first time a little under a year ago, and it simply blew me away. I loved everything from the eclectic, insanely relatable cast of characters, to the unique and interesting lore it builds for its demons. The love story between Dee and James takes center stage, and draws you into both of their struggles and personal growth, but it never distracts from the larger story, which is always appreciated.
This book also has a diverse and inclusive cast, which is always a breath of fresh air, particularly in paranormal and fantasy. The Hearts We Sold also features a wonderful underlying message about survival and the road to recovery, which will resonate for anyone who has or has known anyone who has struggled with abuse and trauma.
Dee is a wonderful and deeply sympathetic heroine, and I instantly related to her. (Honestly, being 100% willing to make a deal with the devil for tuition money is pretty much the ultimate Millennial experience.) I loved her interactions with the other characters – all of them. There’s her supportive and sometimes argumentative friendship with her roommate Gremma, and her swoon-worthy romance with James. I especially loved her relationship of mutual distrust that gradually becomes mutual grudging respect with the Agathodaemon. If you loved Hazel Grace Lancaster and Rose Hathaway, you’ll love Dee Moreno.
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By far my favorite thing about this book is the magic and the demons I thought the way they operate in this story was so unique. My only real complaint is that it isn’t explored as much as I would’ve liked. I think there are a lot of different directions the story could’ve gone with this setting, and I would’ve loved to see more possibilities explored. The author has said she intends for this book to be a standalone (NOOOOOOOOO!), so I guess we’ll just have to use our imaginations for the stories beyond Dee and the heartless troop.
Honestly, I would totally make a deal with the Agathodaemon to get The Hearts We Sold adapted into a Netflix miniseries. (Victoria Justice as Dee, Matt Bomer or Cillian Murphy as the Agathodaemon, please and thank you!) Then maybe more people would discover this book! Who knows, maybe it could even follow the lead of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, and expand beyond the book and into more seasons. I think this world has so much untapped potential, and I’d love to see more from it; either following the new adventures of Dee, or the adventures of the next troop of heartless teens.
For now, I’ll happily read my copy over and over again – and I’m sure you will, too. The Hearts We Sold is everything a paranormal romance should be; melancholy, dark, and daring, and yet hopeful, tender, and relatable at the same time. This book has a small-yet-dedicated fandom online, and I sincerely want to see it grow. (Seriously, I created the TV Tropes page myself. Please read it, I’m DYING to scream about it with new people.)
Content note: PG-13 like. There are some brief instances of violence and foul language. There is also a fade-to-black sex scene. The book also contains non-graphic depictions of parental abuse. Another scene discusses transphobia.
The Hearts We Sold is available from your favorite bookseller, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-Million.
For more about author Emily Lloyd-Jones, visit her website here.
Have you read The Hearts We Sold? If you have, tell me what you thought in the comments down below! If not, please do – it comes HIGHLY recommended.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
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