Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: The Interrupted Tale - Maryrose Wood

The Interrupted Tale by Maryrose Wood
Series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #4
Genre: Middle Grade, comedy, msytery
Published on December 17, 2013
Published by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 320
Read From: 1.4.14 - 1.10.14

Turning sixteen is a bittersweet occasion for Miss Penelope Lumley. Her parents remain disappointingly absent, and her perfectly nice young playwright friend, Simon Harley-Dickinson, has not been heard from since her went to visit his ailing great-uncle Pudge in the old sailors' home in Brighton. 
Luckily, an invitation to speak at the annual Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition (or CAKE) at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females provides just the diversion Penelope needs. 
Optoomuchstic as ever, Penelope hopes to give her CAKE talk, see some old friends, and show off the Incorrigible children to Miss Mortimer, but instead she finds her beloved school in an uproar. And when Penelope is asked by the Swanburne Academy board of trustees to demonstrate the academic progress of her three wolfish students so the board can judge the true worth of a Swanburne education, the future of her alma mater - and of her job as governess to the Incorrigibles - hangs in the balance.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? At first, I wasn't the hugest fan of the cover art for these books (I didn't dislike it, but it wasn't my favorite, either). But it's grown on me now. I like the simplicity and the colors - it's fun.

Characters: I have always liked Penelope Lumley, with her resourcefulness and ability to take the best out of life and not be beaten down by unfortunate circumstances. Likewise, I've loved the three Incorrigible children with their surprising keenness and amusing antics. And Simon has been a favorite as well. However, I must admit that the characters' continued optimism, plucky sayings and dramatic actions are getting a bit . . . well, old. For once, could Penelope not be so plucky? Could the Incorrigibles please stop ending every word with "woof" or "woo?" And perhaps Simon could just be a little less punny. I am not saying that I dislike the characters all of a sudden, or that their isms are especially annoying in this volume. But there is an astounding lack of development in any of them. Constance Ashton and even Lord Frederick Ashton are growing considerably as characters, but Penelope and the Incorrigibles - and yes, even Simon - aren't so much. As for Judge Quinzy, I am not yet convinced that he a true villain; just someone we don't know enough about yet. And that brings me to another issue, which I will address in the plot section of this review.

The Romance: Penelope and Simon's relationship still remains a sweet infatuation that isn't taking up too much time.

Plot: For Penelope Lumley, orphan governess to the adopted children of Lord and Lady Ashton, her sweet sixteenth isn't all that sweet. Absent parents, no letters from her old schoolfellows, and pupils entirely ignorant of her birthday make for a pretty cheerless celebration. But Penelope is determined to look on the positive side of things, just as a Swanburne girl would. And when an invitation to talk at the annual Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females arrives, Penelope is only too eager to accept. It's a chance to not only revisit her old stomping grounds, but to show off the progress she's made with the three Incorrigibles. However, their arrival is less than cheerful, as Penelope observes with horror the sudden changes that have been made to the school by the board of trustees, now under the command of the untrustworthy and sinister Judge Quinzy. It was fun to visit the Swanburne Academy with Penelope and meet many new and colorful characters. But the problem with this book? No questions are answered. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events was unique in the fact that it was able to carry on for 13 books and not answer any questions until the very end of the series. However, I am becoming very impatient for answers in this series, and not in a good way. How much longer can this Author really string her Readers along? Once I realized that nothing was really going to be answered, I kind of lost some of my interest in the story. Again, I'm not saying that this was a bad book - there are still a lot of funny parts and some interesting hints towards what will happen in the future. But it isn't my favorite out of all 4 books.

Believability: Not applicable. While set in a Victorian era, it is so very clearly not meant to be historically accurate.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. But like in Lemony Snicket's books, there is a sort of omnipotent narrator (the Author), which suits the story very well. And also like Snicket's books, there is a hint of that rather bizarre and amusing humor.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Classically climactic and abrupt and frustrating, because it doesn't answer anything. The Interrupted Tale isn't the strongest installment in the series. By the time Readers get to it, they want something explained. Not everything, of course, but something. And Penelope's pluckiness can begin to grate on one's nerves. But it is still a rather fun, amusing little series and I will definitely finish reading it.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, twelve-and-up, great for fans of Snicket, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and other like-minded books.

Other 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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