Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review: The Mysterious Howling - Maryrose Wood

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
Series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1
Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction, mystery
Published on March 1, 2010
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 267

Of especially naughty children, it is sometimes said: "They must have been raised by wolves." 
The Incorrigible children actually were. Discovered in the forests of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels. 
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must eliminate their canine tendencies. 
But mysteries about at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to civilize the Incorrigibles in time for finicky and uppity Lady Constance's Christmas ball? And what on earth is a schottische? 
Penelope is no stranger to mystery, as her own origins are also cloaked in secrecy. But as Agatha Swanburne herself once said, "Things may happen for a reason, but that doesn't mean we know what the reason is - at least, not yet."


First, I will reassure you that the "twist" in the end is not related to werewolves, as I was concerned at first. But that is all I will say concerning the end. Oh, and I am anxiously awaiting its sequel. Maryrose Wood's writing contains a flavor very, very similar to Lemony Snicket, and it is excessively amusing and a bit peculiar. The story, actually, is peculiar. With the three children displaying "doggy" attitudes, I was not expecting to feel very close to them as characters, but I was quite astonished to find it otherwise! Alexander, Cassiopeia - especially her, - and Beowulf are some of the most endearing children characters I have met in my years of reading. I found myself very concerned for their well-fair. And Penelope Lumley is a very dear girl who tries very hard to do her best as a governess and not lose her temper with Lady and Lord Ashton.

The only complaint I have about this book is the rather glaring anti-hunting message. I am with Penelope in loving animals. I hate to see animals hurt, and I am not much for decorating a wall with stuffed heads - it isn't a very pretty decoration to look at. However, hunting is a necessity; that is how I view it, and I don't particularly care for the sportsman attitude that often accompanies hunters. But it's a necessity. The anti-theme of it echoed far too often in the story that it took away from the story and I felt as if I were being preached at more than being told a story.

Aside from that, I heartily enjoyed it!

Others in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Series:
1)The Mysterious Howling
2)The Hidden Gallery
3)The Unseen Guest
4)The Interrupted Tale

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