Series: Cold Stone & Ivy
Jack the Ripper gave her his heart. Now he wants it back.
The year is 1888, the clockwork British Empire is crumbling and young writer Ivy Savage has literally received a heart in the post. Terrified, her father sends her north to a strange sanitarium in Lancashire where the brilliant but unpredictable “Mad Lord of Lasingstoke” makes his home.
Here, Ivy finds the dead are as dangerous as the living and she is immediately swept into a world of manners, mystery, and supernatural intrigue, uncovering a secret that will lead both her and the Mad Lord back to London and the dark streets of Whitechapel.
If you are a reader who needs to be led around by the nose and have an author hit you over the head with the plot, then Cold Stone & Ivy may not be the book for you. If you can’t draw your own conclusions from a book, then skip this book. If you need plot twists and turns rammed down your throat, then skip this book. If you can’t follow a multilayered story, you need to jump to another book.
“Nothing to see here”
You just won’t get it. Please don’t read this book if you can’t think for yourself or recognize the clever writing. If you are mundane or a muggle, please just pass over this book. It isn’t for you – you won’t understand it. Now that I’ve gotten rid of all the rabble and lookie loos, let’s get down to business. There is a unique subsection of authors in the world that like to entertain ‘thinking’ readers. I know . . . it is startling that authors might actually require their readers to use their brains and draw their own conclusions. This subsection of authors are unique and pop up in the fantasy genre. Some of the best are actually children’s book writers and they are known for challenging their readers. Let’s face it. Children are brilliant until we dumb life down for them. I want to be challenged and surprised and I want to think most of all. In Cold Stone & Ivy, H. Leighton Dickson makes me think. Like Moning, Delaney, Pullman, Lewis, Carroll, Stroud, Rowlings, and Tolkien, she makes her readers think. Not every plot device needs to be explained: her readers are allowed and encouraged to pull the rabbit out of the hat and draw their own conclusions.
So how to describe this little gem? Let’s me think…. hmmm…. Think. Think. I think I have it. First get a blender. Add a flux capacitor. Next into the blender, add some Doctor Who as the man is mad as a hatter, add a little Lovecraft, a smattering of Doyle, a shake of H.G. Wells, a pinch of The Sixth Sense, a smidgen of Alice in Wonderland, a smattering of Stevenson, a dollop of True Crime, a tad of urban legend, a dash of Poe, a swish of Gothic, and a speck of Oz. Set blender on high with the top off. Duck for cover and enjoy.
Cold Stone & Ivy is set in Victorian England in the fall of 1888. Imagine that you are writer Ivy Savage whose new pen pal has sent you a human heart. Your doctor fiancé’s next door neighbor is Dr. Jekyll. You just happen to be a houseguest of a Lord who can see dead people. Time and relative dimensions in space are impacting your real life. You happen to be a no-nonsense girl who loves a mystery, so whatcha gonna do as the world explodes around you? Get involved, of course!
Most anglophiles and true crime readers will recognize the year as notorious for being the year of the killings in the Whitechapel area of London. In this book, Dickson puts her spin on the murders and their impact on one writer, Ivy Savage. Using a writer as the heroine gives me, the reader, the delight of reading a story within a story. Ivy Savage just happens to write penny dreadfuls, and her main character’s name happens to be Penny Dreadful. The story is enthralling and Ivy is pulled into more that just the Ripper case as her world is ripped off its axis and given a good spin and dunk.
Some authors explore ancient world mythos in their writings or completely develop worlds of their own imagining. Steampunk is set in the framework of an advanced Victorian England. In Dickson’s story, the world is steam-powered with new technology, but the greater world doesn’t readily accept the paranormal. Ivy and her existence are pretty mundane until she gets a package in the mail. It is with that package that Ivy’s life is thrown into a paranormal world that a no-nonsense science girl isn’t ready to believe.
Now you may wonder why, if I enjoyed the book so much, it didn’t garner a full five stars. I hang my head and have to reveal editing problems with this imaginative tale. I am not a ‘comma queen’, but if I can find misplaced words and wrong spellings, then everyone else can as well. There are also a few bumps along the way in secondary character development and interactions. An example of this is Ivy’s brother Davis, a fully formed character who disappeared from the narrative.
Even with the minor bumps, I enthusiastically recommend this gem of a book. This author and series are now on my must read list. If you haven’t read Cold Stone & Ivy and you love Steampunk or gothic mystery, you need to give this book a whirl.
I read as part of Kindle Unlimited.