The Uncommoners: the Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell
Ivy's problems have always been ordinary (like having a really annoying older brother). That is, until her beloved grandmother is taken seriously ill and her life changes for ever. When a glossy black feather writes an ominous message on the kitchen wall and a mysterious funeral coach arrives, bringing with it the strangest policemen, Ivy and Seb go on the run. Helped by a boy who might be their enemy, they are catapulted into the strange underground world of Lundinor, where people travel via luggage and where inanimate objects are strangely... chatty.
As Ivy navigates this peculiar new landscape she finds that an ancient wrong casts a long shadow, and that all her courage will be needed if she is to find out who she really is and in doing so, save her family. In the headlong race to rescue those she loves, Ivy is chased by monsters and grim-wolves and threatened by sinister organisation The Dirge. Unfamiliar magic is everywhere and her best advice seems to come from an uncommonly endearing bicycle bell called Scratch (I loved Scratch. His vivid back to front conversation is one of my favourite things about this excellent novel).
Labyrinthine Lundinor is a delightfully Dickensian creation, and following Ivy through its shadowy alleys is hugely enjoyable. This ebullient and exciting first novel is a great choice for magic fans who are Harry Pottered-out and who are looking for a suitcase-travelling heroine with guts and intriguing secret powers. And who isn't looking for that sort of heroine? I know I am.