The Ivory Rose, by Belinda Murrell

Jemma pushed the ornate front doorbell nervously. It was the first day of her first job. The bell jangled somewhere deep in the house. Jemma glanced up. the house towered over her, covered in a mass of purple, flowing wisteria, its tall turred roof spotted with lichen. Once it had been a grand house, a mansion really. But now the sandstone was cracked, the paint on the windows and door a dull, flaking grey.
Rosethorne was one of the famous Witches’ Houses of Annandale – a row of creepy old mansions on Johnston Street, built with towers and gargoyles, turrets and crenellations, gables and conical spires. Many of them had been renovated over the years to reflect their former glory, but not Rosethorne. People said that Rosethorne was haunted.

Jemma loves her beautiful, perfect home and her loving if overworking and high-expectation parents. But she’s keen to take the first steps to independence when she lands the job of babysitting seven-year-old Sammy a few afternoons a week. But nothing could have prepared her for the secrets in the big old house, Rosethorne. Jemma falls down the stairs and wakes up in 1895. She has no idea how she got here or how she’ll get home. But here she is, outside Rosethorne, the grand house in its heyday. Jemma finds herself employed in Rosethorne, but although the house is in better condition, there’s something very wrong inside. It seems that Georgiana, the daughter of the house may be being poisoned. The race begins to not only discover a way back to her own time, but to help a friend.

The Ivory Rose is a persuasive time-slip mystery. Jemma discovers that there are many differences in the world of 1895 and many of the things she takes for granted, like caring parents/guardians, a childhood and health are not automatic. She is a practical and intelligent character with the ability to quickly process information and make decisions. She’s also friendly, resourceful and inquisitive. While trying to find her way home, she also discovers unkind and criminal behaviours. With the help of her friends she’s able to impact positively on the environment and the lives around her. Readers are introduced to a tangible 1895 via Jemma’s eyes. Themes include friendship, bravery, trust and family. The Ivory Rose introduces the opportunity to compare then and now as seen through this young teenager’s eyes. Recommended for upper-primary and early-secondary readers.

The Ivory Rose

The Ivory Rose, Belinda Murrell
Random House 2011
ISBN: 9781742750712

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.