The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood

The Unmapped Sea, by Maryrose Wood, was published in 2015 by Balzer + Bray. It is the sequel to The Interrupted Tale.

“A baby—blast!” Lord Fredrick Ashton may not feel ready to be a father, but with a little Ashton on the way, he’s sure about one thing: The wolfish curse on his family must end soon, before the child is born. Otherwise, he warns Miss Penelope Lumley, “a barking baby Ashton is just what we shall have.” Penelope takes on the challenge, for she knows that the fate of her own pupils is strangely bound to the fate of the moon-cursed Ashtons. The missing puzzle piece lies within the fading memory of an ancient mariner named Pudge, a resident of the old sailors’ home in Brighton. When Lady Constance’s doctor prescribes a seaside holiday, Penelope jumps at the chance to take the three Incorrigible children to Brighton. There, with the help of her friend Simon, she hopes to find out what Pudge knows. The Ashtons are not the only ones at the beach in January, however. The temperamental Babushkinov family is also taking the winter waters. The Incorrigibles may have been raised by wolves, but the Babushkawoos (as the children call them) are the wildest creatures they’ve ever seen. Is it more than mere coincidence that these untamed children have turned up in Brighton just as Penelope and the Incorrigibles arrive?

Finally, some answers! As much as I enjoyed the last couple of Incorrigible books, the lack of answers were frustrating and slightly dampened my enthusiasm for them. However, The Unmapped Sea answers almost every question that has been raised throughout the series and hints at the answers to the questions that are left.

And in answering questions, The Unmapped Sea not only does a great deal of plot progression, but also character development. Penelope begins to question the extent of her feelings for Simon, and lots of things happen between her and the Incorrigibles that promises good things for the next book. I also enjoyed the “situation change” that occurred at the end of the novel, as that will also most likely lead into some nice change of pace and a chance for the characters to step out of the tiring roles they’ve been in for the last five books.

With all that progression going on, I found The Unmapped Sea not quite as funny as some of the earlier books, but I didn’t mind. There were still some great moments, although I still haven’t decided whether the imaginary trip to Italy was the best or the most ridiculous scene of the series. But I enjoyed the book a lot, and I’m glad that it looks like the Incorrigible Children will step out a bit from the formula of the first five books and do something different for the sixth.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

“Let me see if I understand you properly, Jasper: Lady Constance pretends to believe we are taking our holiday in Brighton, which is true, although she thinks it is false. Meanwhile, she is convinced that the entire staff is playacting in order to conceal from her a trip to Italy that does not, in fact, exist.” Penelope shook her head. If only solving the mystery of the Ashton curse was this straightforward!

Overall Review:

The Unmapped Sea is full of plot progression and even character development, a great thing to have when the first four books stall on answering all the questions that crop up. However, at the end of this book, nearly all the questions are answered, and it looks like the situation has changed for the sixth book. While I love the Incorrigible books, I’ll be glad for the (hopeful) change of the sixth!

You can buy this here: The Unmapped Sea

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The Interrupted Tale: Galloping Iambic Pentameter

The Interrupted Tale is written by Maryrose Wood. It was published in 2013 by Balzer + Bray. It is the fourth book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. My reviews of the first three books can be found here, here, and here. Wood’s website can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, “They must have been raised by wolves.”

The Incorrigible children actually were.

Turning sixteen is a bittersweet occasion for Miss Penelope Lumley: Her parents remain disappointingly absent, and her perfectly nice young playwright friend, Simon Harley-Dickinson, has not been heard from since he went to visit his ailing great-uncle Pudge in the old sailors’ home in Brighton.

Luckily, an invitation to speak at the annual Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition (or CAKE) at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females provides just the diversion Penelope needs.

Optoomuchstic as ever, Penelope hopes to give her CAKE talk, see some old friends, and show off the Incorrigible children to Miss Mortimer, but instead she finds her beloved school in an uproar. And when Penelope is asked by the Swanburne Academy board of trustees to demonstrate the academic progress of her three wolfish students so the board can judge the true worth of a Swanburne education, the future of her alma mater—and of her job as governess to the Incorrigibles—hangs in the balance.”

What I Liked:

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here! I was so excited when I got this book! And Wood did a really good job of reminding the reader about certain revelations in the past three books, so I wasn’t lost at all despite it being about a year since I read the last book.

The first three Incorrigible Children books were fantastic fun, and this one was no exception. I’m pretty sure I laughed every minute or so, and every single page was so much fun to read. The children, Penelope’s “optoomuchtism” and observations and her entire one-hour-and-three-quarters-long speech about ferns, Lady Constance, Simon Harley-Dickinson, the narrator’s asides about random things a la Lemony Snicket…I can’t even begin to express my delight with this book.

So, my theory is that Penelope is Miss Mortimer’s daughter or related to Agatha Swanburne, and that the three children are somehow related to her (Penelope), due to the color of their hair. Also, Lady Constance is definitely pregnant.

What I Didn’t Like:

Despite what I just said, I do think that more reveals should have been made. The Interrupted Tale was really just a continuation of The Unseen Guest with the mysteries only extended, not solved (well, at least one was confirmed instead of speculated). It’s also a bit of a downer to finish a great book like this one and not have the pleasure of the next one right away.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Children’s

Passages/Quotes:

Under the changing leaves of the trees near the house, she entertained them with some vigorous skipping and dancing games that she had recently invented. The games were meant to show the various types of poetic meter: iambic pentameter, for example, which William Shakespeare used to marvelous effect in many of his poems and plays. (Scholars have written lengthy books on the subject of iambic pentameter, a topic of great complexity that can only be mastered by experts, geniuses, college professors, and the like. Fortunately, Penelope did not know this. She thought iambic pentameter sounded like five strides of a gallop—ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM—and could easily be learned by pretending to have a pony race, after which anyone might read the works of Shakespeare with far greater enjoyment than before.)

~Wood 28-29

“We are ghosts,” Alexander explained to the capsized woman.

“‘Sheeted ghosts.’ As in Longfellow,” Beowulf explained.

“He means Hespawoo,” Cassiopeia added, for indeed, “sheeted ghost” was a phrase taken from “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” an absolutely thrilling poem about a ship wreck that the children knew quite well.

~Wood 163

Overall Review:

I’m thinking I actually prefer this series to A Series of Unfortunate Events, but the one note of concern I have is that the Incorrigible Children seem to be going the same way as Snicket’s series, which is to Unsolved Mysteries Forever territory. But the books are still some of the most entertaining I’ve read.

You can buy this here: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book IV: The Interrupted Tale

The Unseen Guest: I’m So Sad This Is The Last Book (So Far…?)

The Unseen Guest is written by Maryrose Wood. It was published in 2012 by Balzer + Bray. It is the third (and the most recently published) book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. My review of the first and second books can be found here and here, respectively.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, and still that little bit of Fantasy.

Summary/Blurb:

“Since returning from London, the three Incorrigible children and their plucky governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, have been exceedingly busy. Despite their wolfish upbringing, the children have taken up bird-watching, with no unfortunate consequences—yet. And a perplexing gift raises hard questions about how Penelope came to be left at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and why her parents never bothered to return for her.

But hers is not the only family mystery to solve. When Lord Fredrick’s long-absent mother arrives with the noted explorer Admiral Faucet, gruesome secrets tumble out of the Ashton family tree. And when the admiral’s prized racing ostrich gets loose in the forest, it will take all of the Incorrigibles’’ skills to find her.

The hunt for the runaway ostrich is on. But Penelope is worried. Once back in the wild, will the children forget about books and poetry and go back to their howling, wolfish ways? What if they never want to come back to Ashton Place at all?”

~Inside Flap

Passages/Quotes:

“She’s here! Oh, my hair! My face! My nose! Ah-choo!” Lady Constance wailed.

“Ma’am, your buttons have come undone!” Margaret squeaked.

“Hide,” Beowulf suggested to his siblings. No doubt he was still thinking about the possibility of a bone, for he dearly loved to gnaw. But Lady Constance misunderstood.

“Hide? Ah-choo! Very well, then—if you three will not, then I shall hide! After all, Fredrick’s mother cannot dislike me if she has not met me.” And with that, Lady Constance kicked off both of her pretty shoes and began to haul herself into the low, spreading branches of a nearby tree.”

~Wood 45

“As Miss Lumley would later explain to the Incorrigibles, a rhetorical question is one that is asked, but that no one is expected to answer. “For what child does not like being treated kindly by an adult” is a rhetorical question. So is “Why, it seems I’ve taken your saddle by mistake, Miss Pevington; how could I be such a dunce?” Not to mention the old standby, “Do bears live in the woods?”

There are countless such examples, but to catalog them all would take weeks, and who has time for that? (Note that “Who has time for that?” is also a rhetorical question. The curious among you may feel free to search for more instances within these pages, if you find that sort of treasure hunt enjoyable. And who doesn’t?)”

~Wood 65

Warnings: Fortunetelling and séances

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Rating: 5/5

Art done by Bibliovermis

What I Liked:

The return of Simon Harley-Dickinson! Riding on wolves! Ostriches! Lady Constance in a tree! Conspiracy! More mysteries! More questions! Bad puns!

I cannot adequately express my love for this series. I feel like I’m repeating myself from my past reviews of the first two books. Great characters, great mystery, great fun…just go read the books, already, and experience the ridiculous fun for yourself.

What I Didn’t Like:

What just happened who is Judge Quinzy why is there not another book when is it coming out?

Overall Review:

The worst part of The Unseen Guest is when it’s over. Full of ridiculous situations, shenanigans, and the loveable Incorrigible children and their sensible governess Penelope, this book will delight all who read it (unless this type of book isn’t your style).

Coming Up Next: Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

The Hidden Gallery: The Return Of The Incorrigible Children, With Even More Fun Shenanigans!

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

Summary/Blurb:

“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…”

~Inside Flap

Cover Art

Passages/Quotes:

“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.

Ahwoooooo!”

“Ahwooooo!”

“What?” the young man yelled down, louder. “Is someone hurt?”

“We are quite all right, thank you.”

“What? I can’t hear you.”

“Ahwooooo!”

“Ahwooooo!”

“Ahwooooo!”

“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.”

~Wood 51

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.”

~Wood 150

Warnings: Fortunetelling

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Rating: 5/5

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….

Overall Review:

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

The Mysterious Howling: Jane Eyre Meets Lemony Snicket

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.

Summary/Blurb:

“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.”

~Inside Flap

Cover Art

Passages/Quotes:

“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.”

~Wood 19

“Moon, moon, moon.

Night, no moon? Dark.

Night, yes moon? Light!

Yes, moon!

Ahwooooo!”

~Wood 92

“Yum, yum. Squirrel!

No! No!

Yum, yum. Cake?

Yes! Yes!”

~Wood 93

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Rating: 5/5

Fan art of the book by 2d-artist on deviantart.

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.

Overall Review:

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