The Hidden Gallery is written by Maryrose Wood. It was published in 2011 by Balzer + Bray. It is the second book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. My review of the first book can be found here and Wood’s website can be found here.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, and a bit of Fantasy
“Thanks to the efforts of Miss Penelope Lumley, their plucky governess, Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia are much more like children than wolf pups now. They are accustomed to wearing clothes. They hardly ever howl at the moon. And for the most part, they resist the urge to chase squirrels up trees.
Despite Penelope’s civilizing influence, the Incorrigibles still managed to ruin Lady Constance’s Christmas ball, nearly destroying the grand house. So while Ashton Place is being restored, Penelope, the Ashtons, and the children take up residence n London. Penelope is thrilled, as London offers so many opportunities to further the education of her unique students. But the city presents challenges, too, in the form of the palace guards’ bearskin hats, which drive the children wild—not to mention the abundance of pigeons the Incorrigibles love to hunt. As they explore London, however, they discover more about themselves as clues about the children’s—and Penelope’s—mysterious past crop up in the most unexpected ways…”
“I say!” A young man stuck his head out of a window two floors above. “What’s all that racket? Is everything all right?”
“Yes,” Penelope called back, but the children were still carrying on in a most frightful way.
“What?” the young man yelled down, louder. “Is someone hurt?”
“We are quite all right, thank you.”
“What? I can’t hear you.”
“I’m coming down!” The young man’s head disappeared back inside the window. Straightaway there was a great clatter and thumping and the crash of things colliding. From the sound of it, this fellow was taking the stairs two at a time.”
Penelope rapidly picked up speed. “Why, this is not difficult at all,” she thought, perhaps feeling a bit more confident than she had a right to. ‘And I will wager that Mr. Hixby’s advice is sounder than it first appeared. I shall ride until I smell elephants! For that will mean the zoo must surely be nearby.” This is the trouble with optimism, you see: In excess, it makes even ridiculous ideas seem worth a try. And the chance to put this one to the test had arrived, for Penelope was already careening toward the intersection.
“Easy as pie!” she thought, preparing to sniff. “One direction will smell more like elephants than the other, and this is the direction in which I shall go.”
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Cover drawn by Biblioverris
What I Liked:
This book (the whole series, really) is like Lemony Snicket’s and Charlotte Brontë’s child (with all of its personality deriving from Snicket’s side of the family). There are few books that are as much fun as this one is. It’s ridiculous, hilarious, mysterious…quite frankly, it’s wonderful.
The moment Wood introduces us to Simon Harley-Dickinson (see first passage in the Passages/Quotes section), I knew I was going to love him. He reminded me so much of Lord Teddie from Entwined, but less melodramatic (a mix of Mr. Bradford and Lord Teddie, which of course you understand completely because you’ve read Entwined. Right?). Penelope is so sensible that she’s quite amusing.
Wood really knows how to keep her readers entertained and keep the plot suspenseful. A few things are answered from the first book, but a lot more questions are raised that carry on into the next book—not enough to alienate the reader, though.
What I Didn’t Like:
I just want to know what happens next and why everyone is being so mysterious and who are Penelope’s parents and where did the children come from and argggghhhh….
The Hidden Gallery is a charming, fun-filled book that any reader will enjoy. It continues the tradition that the first book, The Mysterious Howling, set up and it does so masterfully, with unforgettable characters, ridiculous situations, and entertaining shenanigans.
Coming Up Next: The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood