Night Ivy, by E.D.E. Bell

unfocusedcuriosity's review

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adventurous inspiring mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


I received this story as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I have to start by congratulating the author on fantastic world-building. The writing was very descriptive without feeling convoluted. It was easy to get lost in the world following Xelle's adventures. One of my favourite parts of this world was diversity. I liked that there were various gender identities represented. I love when authors remove the very real and current types of bigotry (real-world racism, homophobia, etc.) from their fantasy world sometimes!

Xelle was a unique main character. She came across as very relatable and easy to get attached to. Her characterization felt very refreshing! As someone who struggles with my own anxiety, seeing myself represented in a story made me feel seen and validated in a weird way. I also adored the way Xelle's sexuality was addressed. It felt grounded in the reality of how attraction works for many people on an individual level. There were moments I felt a little confused at the beginning of the story but it was very easy to get sucked in the story. I cannot wait to read more from E. D. E. Bell

hannahmarierobbins's review

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adventurous emotional hopeful relaxing sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


This is a warm and enjoyable book about our main character Xelle who goes on a (sort of) quest. I saw that E.D.E Bell described Night Ivy as not quite having a plot and I think that’s a really good way to characterise the book and test if it is for you or not. When I describe it to my friends, I liken it to a mixture of Dark Crystal and episodes of a wholesome children’s tv show that operates episodically. The anxiety and neurodivergent representation is really good and I absolutely loved the style of the first half. As the book focused a little more on the mystery, I found it less engaging. That said, I would recommended Night Ivy for lots of people.. It is ideal for readers who enjoy magic, fantasy, and going on gentle adventures with libraries and hostels and new people in each chapter. Also, dragons!

tanouska's review

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Love the worldbuilding. The main character's anxiety is written so well and realistic, I think it will be nice for people with anxiety to see a version of their experience on the page, and that people without anxiety will get a good peek at what can go on under the hood of an anxious person!

minervacerridwen's review

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adventurous mysterious reflective relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes


This is the perfect book for everyone who enjoys exploring the worldbuilding in a videogame at least as much as fulfilling the quests. Through the eyes of the main character, Xelle, the reader gets to discover a rich universe, starting out small in a Tower full of Mages and Studies, but soon departing on a journey and discovering many interesting new places and characters. It was remarkable how relatable Xelle was to me. We don’t often get neurodiverse main characters in fantasy, but with Xelle it really felt like I could be the hero of a fantasy story myself, even if my mind, too, can spiral into worrying at inconvenient moments. There were also some interesting trope subversions: apparently, when you put together a character, world, and situation least suitable for espionage, you can create a brilliant mystery. 
I’ll definitely look forward to the next part of the series. The book was well rounded, but leaves just enough open questions to leave you longing for more.