Monday, October 8, 2012

The Ivory Rose - Belinda Murrell

Jemma finds herself a regular visitor to Rosethorne, one of the famous Witches’ Houses of Annandale, as she works at her first babysitting job – minding Sammy. Jemma loves spending time with Sammy and visiting Rosethorne, except she’s been witness to some strange happenings there that she can’t explain. Sammy says that someone she calls Georgie is in the room, but Jemma can’t see anyone. Does Sammy have a wild imagination? Or are the rumours true? Could Rosethorne really be haunted?

When Jemma and Sammy are playing hide-and-seek one day, Jemma finds a beautiful rose charm made of ivory. But when she puts it around her neck it sets off a terrifying chain of events that end in her falling down the stairs and knocking herself unconscious. When she comes to, she finds she has time-travelled to the year 1895. Poor Jemma has no idea how she arrived here or how to return home, nor that she will be involved in a life and death quest to save the life of the pale and sickly Georgiana, young heiress of Rosethorne.

Fans of Belinda Murrell’s time slip tales will not be disappointed with her latest addition to the series. The Ivory Rose explores the late nineteenth century world of Annandale, Sydney, in the midst of a devastating depression. Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Jemma we see the life of the times at grassroots level; through Jemma’s friendships, her disappointments and frustrations, her shocking discoveries about the hardship of the working class, Murrell leads us into a thrilling and intimate journey into history. This is a thoroughly engaging story. It will appeal to upper primary through to early teenage girls who will relate to all the challenges Jemma must face both at home in her own time and in her stint in the nineteen eighties. Murrell’s artful and thoroughly researched crafting of setting, her cast of believable characters, and her bent for interesting plot twists will keep this book securely in the hands of the reader until it is finished. She deals deftly with themes of bullying, friendship, resilience and hope, and as always supplies a history fact file at the back of the book. The Ivory Rose would make a great addition to any classroom. Recommended.
Random House 2011
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 26, Issue 2, May 2011)

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