Tuesday, September 4, 2012

{Review} The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1) by Maryrose Wood

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1) by Maryrose Wood
Published by HarperCollins, 2010
Hardcover, 267 pages
ISBN 0061791059
Genres: adventure, children's fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, humor, mystery, YA

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place.

My review: Maryrose Wood has a charming writing style, similar to that of Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), though not so close that it seems... suspicious, if you know what I mean. She has created an awesome heroine in Miss Penelope Lumley, a no-nonsense yet kindly young lady who takes a position as governess to the "Incorrigibles", three children the master of Ashton Place found in the forest on one of his frequent hunting trips. While the children, around 10, 8 and 5 years of age, are obviously siblings nothing more is known about them, and if their manners and language skills (or lack thereof) are any indication they have been living in the forest for a very long time. Lady Constance Ashton, the mistress of Ashton Place, is a self-centered and spoiled young woman of around 20 who recently married Lord Ashton. While she tolerates the presence of Miss Lumley and the Incorrigibles she would be more than happy for them to go straight back from where they came. Miss Lumley has other plans, however, planning on keeping the children safe in her care for as long as possible, even if it means getting put on Lady Ashton's least-favorite-persons list. She frequently bolsters her fortitude with the pithy sayings of the headmistress at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, where she received an excellent education and much practical training. She frequently gives herself serious little pep talks worthy of L.M. Montgomery's heroine Anne Shirley, and I'm sure they would have found each other to be kindred spirits. The children, dubbed Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia by Lord Ashton, adore Penelope and have great dramatic flair, reveling in reciting and performing such literary pieces as Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus".

This was an extremely fast read and I'm looking forward to reading The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2 and #3: The Hidden Gallery and The Unseen Guest respectively. A fourth in the series is slated for publication in 2013 as well! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley, Skellig by David Almond, or simply likes quirky writing with lots of literary references, precocious children, and fun illustrations. Thank you so much for dropping in & I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Incorrigibles below!
Mary Beth

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