The book is about Martin, a middle aged artist and college professor whose motivation and passion for painting is slowly withering away.  After losing an award to one of his students, Martin goes out for a drive.  It’s one of those dreary London nights, toppled with rain and while passing through one of Central London’s rather dodgy streets, a teenage girl appears out of nowhere and he runs her over with his car.  Wrecked with guilt and shame he follows the ambulance to the hospital where he learns the girl came through the ordeal unharmed.  The girl’s name is Ivory, a prostitute living with an elderly black gentleman called Ebony.

Martin is utterly captivated by the rather unearthly and haunting beauty of Ivory, and slowly gets sucked in to her world.    A world filled with pimps, prostitutes, danger, and decadence.  Martin becomes more and more detached from his family and obsesses over Ivory, and that obsession brings about the unraveling of his life.

Merrifield gives us London in two different lights, the sedated, saccharine London of Martin’s day, and the dark, edgy, dangerous London where Ivory lives.  The clash of those worlds serves as a representation of the conflict of emotions that are in turmoil within Martin.  Desire versus duty, passion versus love.  It is all very well done, and although sometimes I felt that Merrifield was in need of a good editor to keep the pace and not inundate the reader with minute details about his protagonist’s daily home life, it achieved its purpose.  It horrified me and made me lose a few hours of sleep.

Perhaps I am a bit unimaginative, but the ending caught me quite by surprise.  I suspected something was up, but the scenarios I came up for the ending where nowhere near it.  I usually deduce the ending of mystery or horror books, which is why I usually don’t read the mystery/horror genre.  Maybe it is the logical training that being an Economics major requires me to go through, either way, I was very pleased I could not deduce it, and a bit scared by it.

I highly recommend this book if you want to give a brave, new author a try.   Ivory was worth the few hours of sleep I lost.

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Economics Student by day, classical singer by night. My hobbies are: painting, drawing, gardening, embroidery, photography, and learning how to play the piano.