Book One of ‘The Ivy Moon Chronicles’ by W. C. Furney
“My name is Ivy Moon,” I say to Tonka. He stares at me with dark, intense eyes. Biding his time. Waiting for me to make a move. “It’s the name I’ve given myself. The kitchen calendar has all the dates in September marked off except for the thirtieth, so I think it’s today’s date. It’s a Celtic Tree Calendar, and it shows today is the first day of the Ivy Moon. I can’t remember my real name, so I’m going with that. Do you like it?”
This is how “Ivy Moon” begins. Who is this girl? Why doesn’t she know how old she is? And who is Tonka?
She wakes up on a boat, and she soon realises she knows a lot of nautical jargon, but she has no memory of having been on a boat before. The interesting part, though, is that the boat is against a house. It seems like there was a storm so powerful it pushed a boat around. But Ivy’s memories are scattered, she has no recollection of a storm, or any severe weather conditions. A good thing though is that she recognises the neighbourhood – she must be from there.
Once she gets herself out of the boat, she can focus on other matters: there are a lot of questions Ivy needs answers to, but there are also more urgent priorities, especially food and shelter. She enters the house her boat hit, and after feeding herself and Tonka, she goes to sleep in one of the bedrooms and postpones any further exploring until the following day, when daylight will definitely help. The exploration will be longer than she expected, but fruitful: she finds out that she is in New Bern, North Carolina, in a house on Shadow Lane. Not that it means much, but at least it gives her a sense of security.
But her security is short-lived: every single house she enters on her street is completely empty, and whoever lived there simply vanished. That’s why she names the event ’The Great Vanishing’. There is one detail, though, that registers in her mind, even if she doesn’t want to give to it much importance: in the first house she visits, she notices something weird on the floor, a pile of sand with a ring and a buckle. Someone must have dropped the urn with the ashes of a loved one, with a ring and a buckle inside. But there is no trace of the urn. While continuing with her exploration, she finds the same in other houses: sand, with rings, diamonds or other artefacts. Ivy starts to question it.
This is not the only thing that doesn’t make sense, though. Her brain seems to contain plenty of information about the most different things: she knows how to drive a sidecar, how to switch on and use a chainsaw, how to fire firearms, and a lot of pop, TV and geeky references that she can’t explain, because she has no memories of having done or seen any of these things.
Her explorations continue. It can’t be only her, she keeps saying to Tonka, because she is neither that smart, nor that lucky. As she wanders around she notices one, disturbing detail: shops and restaurants are unlocked, meaning that whatever happened, it happened during the day, when everyone was busy with their daily routines, and there are lots of sand piles around.
One thing that Ivy didn’t consider is the possibility for her to get injured or sick. So, when tiredness, stress and the lack of a balanced diet meets a heavy thunderstorm, she catches a cold and develops a consequent fever. She needs help. Despite her poor health conditions, she gets on a boat and sails across the creek behind her house, where there is a controlled fire, a sign there might be other humans nearby. She lands and glimpses at a man who is giving her his back. His lack of reactions speaks volumes, and so his welcoming.
“Hello, Turpi,” he says. “I’ve been waiting for you. Come, sit by the fire. I don’t have much time.”
Talking to him, she discovers the mysterious guy is her father, but he soon disappears in the forest behind them, not turning back to give her any more information or help. Unfortunately, when she wakes up, there are no traces of the man nor of his presence, and she convinces herself that it was only just a dream.
She gets back to the house and makes sure she recovers, resting and eating better. When she is finally ready to go out again, a few days have passed and she sails again, this time on a kayak. It comes as a real shock when she finds another girl, alive. Ivy Moon meet Roxie River, Roxie River this is Ivy Moon. Roxie too has no memories of who she is, what happened or her past, and she too thought she was the only person in the world. It’s a pleasant surprise for both of them to see they were so wrong. They start to explore the world together, and on a day like any other, they meet three more girls. From here on the story will be a crescendo of events and twists until its explosive and unforeseeable finale.
The book is amazingly paced: we are there with Ivy every step of the way, and considering that she doesn’t know who or where she is, she’s just like the reader – that’s how W.C. Furney creates a superb, strong bond between reader and main character. The idea is very good and well developed, and the presence of an all-girl cast of characters is always a refreshing news.
However, on the downside, we found too many repetitions: how many times can she be afraid to wet her pants? How many times can she actually be surprised of knowing things she has no memory of knowing? We probably would have done with more descriptions of the places Ivy was crossing, for a more complete experience of being in the story with her. The alternation between action and description is always good to keep the reader on their toes.
Still a significant effort! We will patiently wait for the next book in the series.
‘Ivy Moon (Last girl on Earth)’ is available for purchase at: https://amzn.to/3PlOGP1