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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Description: Goodreads
A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.
I'll cut to the chase. Tris & Izzie was a huge disappointment for me. That being said, it's no fault of Mette Ivie Harrison, who is a beautiful writer. The book well-written and an easy read despite the issues I had. It also has some very nice moments in it, including a realistic mother-daughter relationship (magic aside), true friendship complete with fights, and a commentary on love triangles that made me chuckle.

The problem lies in the marketing of the book. It set expectations, and the book itself was something completely different. It goes against everything I thought I "knew" about the book.

Every mention I heard of this book simply said it was a modern retelling of Tristan & Isolde, which is something I was all for. Then at ALA this year, I learned that there was a love potion involved and I thought, "Excellent! Tristan & Isolde with 15% magic. Sign me up!" After all, in the original story Isolde practices herbalism and, well, potions aren't a far cry from that, so I could buy a little magic.

I had seven chapters of bliss -- sweet love story complicated by an accidental love potion -- before things got weird. That was when I was ambushed by a high fantasy plot, which was clearly a major part of the story and something Harrison intended to be a thrust of the book. I don't think it would have bothered me had I had any inkling that this book would be something more than Tristan & Isolde with a little magical twist, but I felt like I was led astray by the publicity.

Swords and kings I could have handled. I was in no way prepared for elemental sorcery, virgin human sacrifice, two-headed talking dogs that eat magic, and invisible swords that can make you fly. I was dumbfounded by it all and even more astonished that anyone could forget to mention it when talking up a book.

If I had read it expecting more of a high fantasy novel or with no expectations at all then my opinion might be entirely different. Part of me wishes that I could have reviewed this book on it's own merits and leave the marketing out of it, but I was excited about the prospect and the potential this book had based on the pitches I heard. The sad fact is that expectations have a role in our final opinion, and Tris & Izzie just isn't what it was initially made out to be.


  1. My thoughts exactly! I was really looking forward to this book too. The first couple chapters were great and than I felt the story lost it's focus. The magic element in this story took away from story, and over all this story didn't live up to my expectations at all. Not to slam the book or anything. It had a lot of potential, but I feel comparing it to the original story really hurt this book. If I had read it without any expectations I may have liked it more.

  2. I saw some mixed review on good reads about this book. I wanted to read it , but then I heard it didn't even follow it the tris and izzie theme. I was very sad because I loved the cover.