Anyone But Ivy Pocket, a mystery novel set in Victorian England, is refreshingly different to anything I've read before.
Ivy Pocket is simply the best anti-hero you will ever meet. Completely delusional, able to miss what is right under her nose and blessed with an impossibly large ego ... she's actually really, really fun to read about.
Ivy Pocket 'a loyal and kind maid' is just 12 years old with an unwaveringly high level of self confidence. Quite misplaced too, as becomes quickly apparent within, well, the very first page.
The Countess Carbunkle and her six children ('an ugly bunch') escaped Ivy by 'sailing to South America'. Possibly this had something to do with that time Ivy 'plunged her face into the fruit punch' in front of a group of very important people. Possibly.
With 'options rather limited' Ivy is plucked from an uncertain future when she is called to the death bed of the Duchess of Trinity 'a great big slug of a woman - part goddess, part hippopotamus.' Ivy has a certain way with words don't you think?!
A precious, priceless Clock Diamond is handed over to Ivy, with strict instructions to deliver it to a Matilda Butterfield on her birthday,
'give it to her then, in front of all her guests. Not a moment before, you understand?'
This remarkable diamond has a mysterious power of it's own. Ivy is warned not to wear ... under any circumstances.
The Gothic plot unravels as Ivy travels from Paris to UK with strange encounters on her journey. Arriving at the Butterfields' several days before Matilda's birthday she contends with an eclectic mix of quirky aristocrats, ghosts, rumours and a few near misses.
Nothing is quite as it seems in this novel, from the protagonist herself to the author Caleb Krisp (a pen name surely?!). What is clear is the brilliant quality of the narrative. Ivy Pocket is a fabulous character with many wonderful one liners (scroll down for a few of my favourites). The plot is one that just keeps moving and twisting with plenty of surprises. Totally intriguing.
Reminiscent of the quirky, dark humour found in the novels of Lemony Snicket, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is quite addictive!
A selection of my favourite words of wisdom from Ivy Pocket ...
'I knew I could trust Miss Always. She wrote books, how dangerous could she be?'
'I was monstrously calm - having all the natural instincts of a sedated cow.'
'just imagine how lethal I could be with two pears.'
'I looked breathtaking. Just like a banker's daughter. Or at very least a cheesemaker's niece.'
'I'm usually an excellent waiter. I once waited for a miracle. It took seven and a half weeks. Yet I never gave up.'
'Miss Always was a writer and therefore prone to hysteria.'