Lis Carey Review: Ivy, Angelica, Bay

  • “Ivy, Angelica, Bay” by C. L. Polk (Tor Books, 2023)

Review by Lis Carey: Miss l’Abielle –Theresa Anne l’Abelle, but only for people outside the community is she anything but Miss l’Abielle –has just buried her mother, who was the witch protecting their whole community. She’s got to take over now, but she’s flattened by grief, and doesn’t really believe she’s up to the task. It seems a little worse, a little harder, when a visit from a desperate young woman results in her becoming the guardian of a mysterious orphan girl.

The girl’s name is Jael Brown, and she’s an innocent, frightened child abandoned on Miss l’Abielle’s doorstep with a battered suitcase with her only possessions. But something else makes itself felt; an insinuating, threatening magic touched them both before being dispersed. Something is wrong, and it’s just the first of many signs that something threatens her community.

She takes Jael with her as she goes around the neighborhood, and a bee leads them to a house that three days ago had a family in it. This leads to further question, which reveal that an outside, aggressive developer is after their community, and especially the park and the area around it, for a freeway.

But there’s something more than the freeway behind this–a powerful, landless magician who wants Miss l’Abielle’s community for their own property. Miss l’Abielle doesn’t yet fully inhabit her mother’s powers, and isn’t sure how to fight this, but she has to do it.

Jael herself proves to have witching talent, and is eager to help–and something other than what she seems. Something very other from what she seems. Is she a friend and added strength, or an enemy inside Miss l’Abielle’s defenses? And can Miss l’Abielle overcome the main enemy, with or without Jael?

Despite what’s going on, it’s a surprisingly gentle, positive story, despite some of what’s going on. Very different from “Even Though I Knew the End,” To me, that’s a very good thing. 

This is a 2024 Hugo Awards Best Novelette Finalist.

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3 thoughts on “Lis Carey Review: Ivy, Angelica, Bay

  1. Apparently this is a sequel, do you know if it should be read after the first one, or does it not matter?

  2. I haven’t read the first one. From reading of this one, I’d say that probably reading the first one would enhance understanding of the protagonist and background, but isn’t essential.

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