The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, book one)
By Maryrose Wood, read by Katherine Kellgren
Published 2010 by Listening Library
Penelope Lumley is thrilled about her position as governess at Ashton Place, even if it is a more unusual family than she expected. You see, the Incorrigible children were found running wild at Ashton Place and have been adopted by the Lord and Lady of the house. Now it's up to Miss Lumley to keep them in line...
This book sounded right up my alley - I hoped it would be sort of like A Series of Unfortunate Events: unusual, funny, a little dark, and definitely mysterious. Well, it pretty much hits all those notes. I listened to the audio version and that was an excellent choice - narrated by the fantastic Katherine Kellgren, this was a pleasure to tune into. She does a fierce British accent and gives it her all when it comes to vocalizing the "words" of the Incorrigibles. It's sort of a hard book to categorize - Penelope, our heroine, is a teenager and we get most of the story from her point of view, but I definitely wouldn't call this a YA book (though it appears to have been nominated to YALSA'a Best Fiction for Young Adults list). Though the main focus of the book is Penelope's journey with the children, there are also a number of mysteries underfoot - making my initial comparison to A Series of Unfortunate Events rather apt. This story is definitely unusual - how often do you encounter tales of feral children in young people's literature? However, I think that's one of the things this book has going for it - there are not many books of its kind out there, and this one is well done. It is the perfect combination of funny and dark and I think there is a huge population of middle-grade readers who find this combination delightfully appealing (I would definitely have been one of them). There are a lot of mysteries left unanswered at the end of this volume - which is fantastic news because it means I get to revisit these characters again. I will definitely be picking up the rest of this series and recommending it to my readers of mysteries.