*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author, Tachyon Publications and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Ivy and her sisters have a secret: their reclusive Great-Aunt is actually Adela Martin, inspired author of the fantasy classic, Ivory Apples. Generations of obsessive fans have searched for Adela, poring over her letters, sharing their theories online, and gathering at book conventions. It is just a matter of time before one fan gets too close.
So when the seemingly-perfect Kate Burden appears at the local park, Ivy knows that something isn’t right. Kate has charmed the entire family, but she is suspiciously curious about Ivory Apples. And Ivy must protect what she and her Great-Aunt share: magic that is real, untamable, and―despite anyone’s desire―always prefers choosing its own vessel.
Ivory Apples is a dark fairytale; intended for adults, rather than children.
I was reminded at first of books like Joan Aitken’s Wolves Chronicles, or Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, as there are similar themes here: orphans, corrupt guardians, terrible trials and special powers or skills. However the tone here is older and darker, and infinitely more disturbing, as it deals with loss of sanity and the inability to trust one’s own senses.
The author’s imagining of the Muses – inspiration to artists and authors alike – is enchantingly wild and yet innocent. I was as bewitched by the woodland grove as the characters themselves were, and felt a strong compulsion to search for such a place myself, gifts (and sacrifices) in hand. What I wouldn’t give for a Piper of my very own!
Well, what I wouldn’t give is my family, my mind, or my future. Ivy is faced with some serious choices over the course of the story, and doesn’t always make the morally obvious decisions. Just as in reality, her character has the potential to love and sacrifice, but also to be selfish and neglectful. Similarly, whilst the villain/s of the story are led astray by their intense jealousy and selfishness, it was hard not to feel sympathy, even pity, for them as they are excluded from a world of magic and wonder for not being ‘special’ enough.
Ivory Apples is a story about stories and inspiration; growing up and responsibility; accepting oneself, and making the best of what you already have. This is not a happily-ever-after fairytale, but a grimmer story of toil and trauma. But magic is magic, whatever the flavour; and Lisa Goldstein’s glimpse into the dark secrets of creativity casts a lingering spell on the reader that no counter-spell can completely dispell.
There were a lot of things I didn’t understand about Great-aunt Maeve when I was growing up. For one thing, although she and my father insisted that we call her Maeve Reynolds, that wasn’t her real name.
– Lisa Goldstein, Ivory Apples
Find more from Lisa Goldstein at her website here, or follow her on Goodreads.
Ivory Apples is available on Amazon right now!
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