Anyone but Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp

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Ill. by John Kelly. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781408858639
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Themes: Orphans and orphanages; Jewellery; Ghosts; Supernatural stories; Mystery and suspense stories; Ghosts; England - Social life and customs - 19th century.
Calvin Krisp's debut novel, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is a marvellous multi-faceted gothic tale set in Victorian England. The feisty protagonist Ivy is a twelve-year-old orphan whose work as a lady's maid draws her into mystery and mayhem. She is a force to be reckoned with, overbearing, opinionated and teller of tall tales, qualities her previous employer Countess Carbuncle is happy to leave behind as she takes a sudden trip to South America. Foisted into service for the dying Duchess of Trinity, Ivy Pocket's new assignment is to carry the mysterious Clock Diamond to England and place it around the neck of Matilda Butterfield at her twelfth birthday party. Her reward of £500 seems to be easily within reach, enough to buy a carriage and a monkey! Unfortunately, a whole ensemble of crazy characters, ghosts, mysterious hooded creatures -Locks, and friends with sinister intentions, pursue her. On board the ship sailing to England, she is befriended by Miss Always a writer who takes a very close interest in Ivy and the mysterious Clock Diamond.
Ivy is an enchanting protagonist, lies trip off her tongue; she is bold, witty and can think on her feet. Krisp's fast-paced narrative is engagingly alliterative, deliciously descriptive and attention grabbing. Once you start, you are compelled to keep on reading, second-guessing just how Ivy Pocket will deal with the next drama. John Kelly's comical drawings display some of Ivy's most intense scenes; Matilda Butterfield's cake disaster is a highlight.
With a promise of more books to come, Calvin Krisp's Ivy Pocket will delight those readers who love mystery, adventure and feisty female heroes.
Rhyllis Bignell