Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket – review

ivy pocket 2Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket is the sequel to the brilliant Anyone But Ivy Pocket, which was one of my stand-out books of last year. It’s not quite as brilliant, but that’s possibly because it’s the middle book in a trilogy, which is very hard to do well (unless you happen to be The Empire Strikes Back). I’m delighted to be reacquainted with Ivy, the most annoying protagonist since Mary Lennox, and pleased to see she has lost none of her self-centredness or tunnel vision, which results, yet again, in her doing some extremely unwise things.

We join Ivy in the house of Ezra and Mother Snagsby *faints at wonderful names* who are funeral directors. They’ve adopted Ivy (WHY, is the question you will be asking all the way through – and thankfully, this is answered) who is brought along to minister to the sick and dying by reading them poetry (which she finds insufferably boring, so she likes to deviate from the text and provide her own poetry – a habit that does not go down well with anyone except possibly the dying themselves, who like a bit of light relief). As soon as she’s read her poem, Mother Snagsby offers her a glass of warm milk, which she drinks and immediately falls asleep. On waking, Ivy finds that the dying person has sadly passed away – every single time. It’s a tribute to Caleb Krisp’s writing that one actually believes Ivy could be so dense as not to realise what’s going on.

UK cover of Book 1, which I'm pleased to see has changed since the first print run. It piggybacks nicely on the superb covers of Robin Stevens's Murder Most Unladylike series
UK cover of Book 1, which I’m pleased to see has changed since the first print run. It piggybacks nicely on the superb covers of Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike series

The Clock Diamond, that highly fatal jewel responsible for the death of a really nice character in the first book, is still round Ivy’s neck (it’s all right, because she’s ‘a little bit dead’ and thus is the only person able to wear it without becoming ‘all dead’) and it begins to show Ivy visions of her poor late friend – only she’s not dead but existing in a parallel world…

Ivy is determined to save her, and once Ivy has a Plan, nothing gets in her way. Fortunately, she is aided by the suspiciously helpful Miss Carnage *faints again at superb choice of name* who reminds the reader of an old adversary…

I enjoyed this book, though I confess I didn’t race through it in the same way I did Book 1. I think I felt that the pace wasn’t quite as snappy; by the end of the story we have found out quite a lot more about Ivy herself and her peculiar abilities, but the plot doesn’t seem to be quite as exciting or move along as fast as I’d have liked. And I wanted more Locks – the dwarf-like creatures with ninja-like abilities! More Locks in Book 3 please! I also suspect that if you haven’t read Book 1, you’ll be hopelessly at sea in this one, so I suggest starting at the beginning.

The US edition of the second book, which I much prefer to the UK version
The hardback edition of the second book, which I much prefer to the paperback version

There are some lovely black and white illustrations by John Kelly sprinkled throughout, though not half as many as I’d like. More Locks and more pictures!

The final in the trilogy, Bring Me The Head of Ivy Pocket, is out in Spring 2017, and I will definitely seek it out – not least because I want to see if I’m proved right about the identity of a certain woman locked up in prison…

Recommended for readers of 8-12 who like their action ghostly, funny and full of larger-than-life characters.

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