Title: The Mysterious Howling
Series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
Author: Maryrose Wood
Genre: Middle Grade
Source: Freebie (YA Sync)
Length: 5 hours 28 minutes (unabridged)
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Published by: HarperCollins
Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent 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 help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?
It’s no secret that I love middle grade fiction. The stories can range from serious to fun to strange to haunting and can have themes that seem way too advanced for the age range they’re written for — or, some seem too young for the age range. It can be hit or miss, but it’s fun to wade your way through the offerings to find that diamond in the rough.
Like this one.
Oh, my word. I was in love with this book within the first chapter. I had actually been eyeing this book for quite some time, mainly because I was in love with that beautiful cover. I had NO idea what the book was actually about, so when I met the characters, from the governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, to the incorrigibles, I couldn’t stop the smiling. I really think that this book is best read through the audiobook version because Katherine Kellgren is a GEM to listen to!
For example, I had no idea that the children Penelope is sent to care for were raised by wolves — therefore, they think they’re wolves. They have no social skills and howl and chase and do whatever the wolves would do. Just hearing the howling on the audio warmed my heart — especially as the children learn to talk. (As a sidenote, if you have dogs, they might also be VERY intrigued by the audio of this story — mine looked around plenty of times, trying to find the source of the howling.)
This was such a fun story, too. I loved reading about the antics that the children would get into, and was saddened by how some people would treat them — as if they were animals. It’s funny because I used to love this show that was on TLC that was about feral children and how people try to integrate them into society. Of course, this story wasn’t nearly so serious, but it was still heartwarming and such a delight.
And, as I said, Katherine Kellgren is WONDERFUL to listen to. I loved the posh British accent she used for Penelope, to the half-howl, half-child voice she used for the children. Even her stodgy older British gentleman voice was perfect! Halfway through the audio, I had to do a search to see what else she had narrated because I know I’ll want to listen to more — and I will especially be listening to the rest of this series on audio!
My only complaint is that this story seems unfinished by the end. I wanted a bit more of a definite ending. Although plenty happens, I didn’t really like the ‘to be continued’ aspect — but I still want to learn more about these incorrigibles and see what kind of shenanigans they can get up to in the next books.
Honestly, this was one of those books that took me by complete surprise. I’m so happy that I remembered the YA Sync offerings the week it was available or I may never have listened to it. Highly recommended!