by Maryrose Wood
385 pages of middle grade mystery full of puzzle, fun and farcical adventure
Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t yet found this series stop reading. Go find the first book and begin. If you’re at NHS – come to the classroom and borrow it. You’ll be glad you did. Whenever you’re ready two, three and this one will wait for you there as well…
If you’ve loved the first three as I have you’ll understand when I say, “I was happy to find the fourth book in the ‘Incorrigibles’ series.” I like Penelope Lumley. I appreciate how she teaches the three “wolf” children she has been charged with. Her model of gentle care, firm expectations and love is to be admired. I respect her dogged perseverance and her constant and innovative problem solving.
Things are not as they seem at Ashton Place and slowly but surely Miss Lumley is peeling back the layers of deception and intrigue in a effort to uncover answer. Why were Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia left in the woods to be raised by wolves? Were they abandoned or secretly cared for? Is there a curse the plagues the Ashton men on the full moon? Why has Edward Ashton feigned his death and then returned after 20 years? Why was Penelope left at the school as a young child? Are her parents truly gone? What are Agatha Swanburne’s secrets? And the hair poultice? Without it Miss Lumley and the three Incorrigibles have the exact same rich, auburn hair. Is there something to that?
These questions swirl around the web of connections that surround Miss Lumley and grow tighter in each story. There are entertaining villains and surprising allies that await you. You’ll finish wondering what happened in Ahwoo Ahwoo Island. You’ll wonder if the mysteries that surround so much of Ashton Place will be solved. And then you’ll remember the wise words of Agatha Swanburne, “Morning may not put one’s problems in a new light, but at least it puts them in a new day,” and you’ll be ready to move on. Ready, but eager for the next book to arrive so the story can continue and new questions emerge.
Writers and lovers of words will smile at the play with iambic pentameter throughout the story closing at the end with a TA-tum, TA-tum, TA-tum, TA-tum, TA-tum. There’s a delicious reference on page 247 about how books you read will later influence what you write: “…Whether a little French boy named Victor Hugo also read Pierre et la Baguette and was inspired to write a similar tale years later, we will never know, but the truth is that grown-up writers cannot help but be influenced by the books they read as children. Someday you, too, may decide to write a novel that touches upon the subjects you read about as a young person. Pirates, perhaps. Or dancing chickens. Or even some combination of the two.”
It is a fun mystery to savor.