Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mysterious Howling review

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling
by Maryrose Wood
Harper Collins
March 2010

This humorous take on orphans and their patient governess invites comparisons to Lemony Snicket, especially for its tongue-in-cheek style. 15 year-old Penelope Lumley, a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is pleased and surprised when she quickly and easily lands a job caring for three children raised by wolves, now the wards of Lord Frederick and Lady Constance Ashton. Lord Frederick hardly seems the fatherly type, neglecting even to name the children until pressed to do so. Barely more than a child herself, Penelope longs to prove herself a competent governess to "three clever pupils who both fear and adore me."

Maryrose Wood is an American author, but the feel of this book is decidedly British. Miss Lumley certainly owes a heavy debt to that other unflappable English nanny, Mary Poppins. My favorite scenes in the book are when Miss Lumley attempts to rally the children, Cassiopeia, Alexander and Beowulf, with proper lessons on Latin, History, and other fine subjects, and despite their unnerving animal-like behavior and obsession with chasing squirrels, she manages to carry on with determination and aplomb. The children have a habit of making wooo-ish howling noises which Miss Lumley comes to find rather endearing. The omniscient narrator presents the tale in equal measures of silliness and perfect propriety -- despite the cliffhanger ending, this is sure to be a welcome addition to any collection.

Compare to:
A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket
Mary Poppins - P.L. Travers
The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
Enola Holmes Mysteries - Nancy Springer
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken


I borrowed this book from the library.

6 comments:

  1. This one sounds right up my alley. I added it to my TBR list. Susan at Pen and Ink

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  2. Looking forward to this one! It was just announced as the next pick for our mother-daughter book club, so I was pleased to see your nice review.

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  3. New to your blog (thanks, Comment Challenge!), popping by after you stopped by mine. Really REALLY enjoying your reviews. Honestly, book review blogs often just don't do it for me, but I'm really enjoying your short-but-clear posts. Bookmarking and will be back. Thanks!

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  4. @Susan - Hey, I'm an un-apologetic pusher of books, so I'm glad to hear you'll be adding this to your TBR.

    @Caryl - I'll be interested to know what you think of it.

    @Jen - Wow, thank you so much! I'm honored!

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  5. Hi Madigan, I've been seeing this book around in quite a number of bookblogs, but I haven't gotten around to getting myself a copy yet. I'm a huge fan of the Mysterious Benedict Society series and I also have the complete set of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events - I have a copy of Willoughby Chase but haven't read it yet. Have you heard of The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch? Might be right up your alley as well. :)

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  6. I have heard of that series, but haven't read them. I've started the first one a couple of times, but couldn't get into it. And I felt so guilty, because I met the author at a book fair, and had to admit that I hadn't read any of his books!

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