Book: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling
Author: Maryrose Wood
Genre: Fiction, Children's Books
The joy of a book club is twofold. It encourages you to read on a regular basis and you read stuff that you wouldn’t have thought of trying. Case in point is my last book, The Incorrigible Children of Aston Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. It is a children’s book that I enjoyed until I read the last line, “To be continued” when I thought, “Wait? What!! You can’t stop now!!” You have been warned.
The story is of Miss Penelope Lumley, a young fifteen-year-old orphan who is hired as a nanny to three children living on the estate called Ashton Place. It is a grand mansion with room upon room surrounded by thousands of acres of forest where the three children were found. They are wild, and look as though they were raised by wolves, what with their howling, braying and cavorting on all fours. The master of the house, Lord Frederick, decided to keep them since, as he said, “finders keepers.”
The story is told by a third person who sometimes goes forward in history such as letting the reader know what happens to the young train conductor who assisted Penelope. Then there are times we are reminded ‘though in the days of Penelope…” The characters, other than the children, are very believable but once you let go of how you think wild children raised by wolves would act then you can truly get into the story.
The writing is witty – one of my favorite scenes is when the young conductor on the train wakes Penelope while she was dreaming. “’Is it bandits?” Miss Lumley cried, half asleep. ‘For, though unarmed, I will fight!’” The ensuing interaction had me laughing as she tried to cover up her embarrassment in front of the conductor.
The portrayal of the housekeeper, Mrs. Clarke, as the square-built, nervous, and babbling woman who denies the sound of howling coming through the window feels real. Then there is the scene of her trying to outrun young Penelope to stop her from entering the stable, “The older lady was clearly unused to exercise; by the time she caught up with Penelope, her face looked like the scarlet top of a mercury thermometer just prior to bursting.”
Where you have to let your imagination fly - especially as an adult reader - is with the children, their lack of language, their braying and howling, and their excitement at chasing squirrels. Yet, within the story their antics fit perfectly – it is a children’s story after all!
The book is aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. I was an avid reader at that age with the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys series. This book is the first of a 5 book series – I still don’t know how that fact escaped me to begin with – and at the end of book one the mystery is only just starting to pop up but the stage has been set. I can’t wait for the next book! This is different to the Nancy Drew series where each book was a completed story. If you have children who enjoy reading I think this will be a keeper but be prepared to buy all five books.