Ivory Apples
by Lisa Goldstein

I consumed this story in less than 24 hours.

Ivy and her three younger sisters live a normal middle class life with their widowed father, with one big secret -- once a month, they go out to visit their secretive great-aunt Maeve who lives in isolation away from the view of her hoards of adoring fans. Aunt Maeve is the author of Ivory Apples, a fantasy cult favorite with a huge and obsessive following, and Ivy's father manages her finances and fan mail.

After stumbling upon the supernatural during one of the visits to Aunt Maeve, Ivy finds herself with a secret supernatural companion named Piper whose capricious whimsy often threatens to overwhelm her own desires and feelings. And, at around the same time, a vaguely innocuous woman named Kate befriends Ivy's sisters and inserts herself into their lives. On the surface, Kate is a delightful lady, but something about her makes Ivy and Piper uneasy.

The author has a deliberate way with words. The mystery around Kate's intentions kept me guessing -- clearly she is going to be important in these girls' lives, but is she going to be a mother figure or the villain?

I was particularly impressed with the scene when Ivy stumbles upon the world of the supernatural in the grove behind Aunt Maeve's house. The descriptions of her first encounter with Piper were palpable. And, as only children can do, she immediately goes back to her normal life after experiencing something so incredible.

I have some criticisms of the book, mainly that it didn't end the way I wanted it to end, but it's still a good ending. And any criticisms I may have are far outweighed by the magic of the rest of the story. It was full of the grittiness and darkness and hopefulness of old fairy tales, and it's something I'd certainly read again.

arc received from the publisher