IVORY APPLES by Lisa Goldstein.
Tachyon Publications. p/b. £11.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Ivy used to think Great aunt Maeve was a secret agent. After all, she never used her own name; they were never to say it or tell anyone the truth of Maeve’s background or her real name or where she lives. Ivy used to think she was a secret agent… that is until one visit, in 1999, when she was just 11 years old.
Desperate to break free from her younger siblings and take a little independence for herself, Ivy ventures into the woods near Maeve’s cottage to find a beautiful grove full of dancing sprites with pointed ears, and her aunt in the midst of it all. Ivy and her sisters went home, as usual, after their visit, but what Ivy experienced in that grove went home with her and changed her for years to come.
Just when everything seems to be getting back to normal and another monthly visit to Maeve’s is looming, tragedy strikes in the worst way and Ivy will have to do everything within her power to get her sisters back from the cruel grasp of their new guardian, Ms Burden, the woman who masqueraded as their friend.
Ivory Apples tells Ivy’s story as she grows from young niece and elder sister to carer, fighter and survivor, all wrapped in the mystery of the bestseller written by her Great aunt years before, and touched by cruelty and magic her young mind had never imagined. Based on traditional folklore, this is an easy read of a young adult fantasy with good worldbuilding and characterisation and the right amount of space left for imagination to fill in the rest.
As a heroine, Ivy is strong and stubborn in the face of adversary and shines through with wit and resilience, coming of age in the most difficult of circumstances and suddenly finding herself responsible for a young family while fleeing for her life and sanity. She shows intelligence and resourcefulness beyond her young years and is a heroine of the time.