26.2.11

Quick Review: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood

The Mysterious Howling, the first book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is a fun little book, a delightful mix of Jane Eyre, Mary Poppins and Lemony Snicket.

Penelope Lemley, 15 years old and recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, has been assigned to Ashton Place, a grand house in the countryside, where she is to take care of three children as their governess. These siblings, two boys and one girl, are not in fact ordinary children. Found in the woods by Lord Ashton, they were, it seems, raised by wolves. Named Alexander, Beowulf and Casseopeia they hardly know a word of English, like to walk on all fours, howl as loud as they can, and get really excited if any squirrels come near them. Miss Lumley, aid by her knowledge and love of animals, set immmediately to teach them all she can. Until the Mistress of the house announces that the children shoul be ready to be presented at the grand Christmas party she is organizing, and Penelope fears that catastrophe will ensue.

The book is a quick and engaging read. Told by an omniscient narrator that talks directly to the reader, it recalls the work of Lemony Snicket, although less dark and more light-hearted. Penelope is an engaging character in all of her love of poetry, animals and good manners. Strong-willed and quite inventive she quickly gains the children to her side. The children themselves become fast likable and sweet, with all their howling, special language and love of storytelling. I especially like certain scenes during the Christmas party, that made me laugh. There seem to be more than one mystery surrounding Ashton Place, the children and Penelope herself that are only hinted at in this first book. There is also several commentaries on writing, social manners and expectation versus reality. I will definitely read the sequel, coming out next week on March 1st calle The Hidden Gallery.

3 comments:

  1. I first heard of this book a few days ago and now here it has popped up again! (Funny how that works. I'm thinking fate wants me to read it...)

    Have you ever read The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry? The Mysterious Howling sounds like it is written in a similar vein.

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  2. @Melee

    Oh, you should read it. It's so quick and fun, I'm sure you'll love it.

    The Willoughbys is on my to-read list. I think I'll borrow it soon from the library. Thank you for reminding me!

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