The Mysterious Howling is written by Maryrose Wood. It was published in 2010 by Balzer + Bray. It is the first book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. Her website can be found here.
Genre: It’s hard to describe the genre of this book. Let’s go with Historical Fiction and Mystery, with a dash of Children’s.
“Of especially naughty children, it is sometimes said: “They must have been raised by wolves.”
The Incorrigible children actually were.
Discovered in the forests of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarming adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a 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 eliminate their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to civilize the Incorrigibles in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?
Penelope is no stranger to mystery, as her own origins are also cloaked in secrecy. But as Agatha Swanburne herself once said, “Things may happen for a reason, but that doesn’t mean we know what the reason is—at least, not yet.”
“Excuse me for interrupting,” said Penelope, “but what is that unusual sound?”
Mrs. Clark’s mouth slammed shut and stayed that way for a count of three, and then flew open again to emit another stream of even more rapid chatter. “What sound? I’m sure I don’t hear any sound, certainly not an ‘unusual’ sound or any other type of sound that one wouldn’t normally expect to hear in a busy household such as this—”
“It is an unusual sound,” said Penelope, tilting her head to listen. “It’s coming in the window. It has a sort of a howling feeling to it.”
“A how—a how—!” Mrs. Clarke’s rushing river of words suddenly went dry.”
“Moon, moon, moon.
Night, no moon? Dark.
Night, yes moon? Light!
“Yum, yum. Squirrel!
Yum, yum. Cake?
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
This book reminded me a great deal of The Series of Unfortunate Events as well as Entwined. It had some of the shenanigan (?) humor that I loved so much in Entwined while also having the humor (which I can’t really quite describe. Absurd humor?) of The Series of Unfortunate Events. It is quite clearly the first novel in a series, as there are no answers and lots of questions that are raised by the end of the book. It was a very cute, funny book that I enjoyed reading. Penelope is the sort of character who is the only sensible one, which leads to a lot of humor as she reacts to the silliness and absurdity of the other characters. The three children are adorable and their reenactment of The Wreck of the Hesperus was one of my favorite parts of the book. The parroting of all the social manners Penelope has taught them also led to some quite funny scenes.
What I Didn’t Like:
Nothing. I enjoyed the book too much to find anything wrong with it.
The Mysterious Howling is a perfect book for anyone who wants to enjoy themselves and/or read something light and fun. Wood sets up just enough to hook you into reading the next book, which promises to be as enjoyable as this one.
Coming Up Next: Snow In Summer by Jane Yolen