The Mysterious Howling

When I picked up this book at the library, a part of me wondered what I was doing.  In fact, the first time I picked it up, I put it back down again and didn’t check it out.  Several weeks later, I spotted it again and couldn’t help picking it up again.  That time I decided to try it out.  I figured, if it was as bad as I thought it would be, I could just return it.  No harm in trying it out.

No harm indeed.  Once I started The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, I could hardly put it down.  Wood has a wonderful writing style which drew me in immediately.  The Mysterious Howling is the first book in a series called The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place – and I honestly cannot wait for the release of the second book in the series.

Lord Ashton discovered three mysterious children on his property during a hunting trip.  Apparently, these children were raised by wolves, and so bark and nip at each other to communicate.  The lady of house is not sure what to make of these children and writes the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females for a governess.  Miss Penelope Lumley interviews for the position and is not at all deterred by the strange antics of her charges.

But problems arise.  “If you have ever opened a can of worms, boxed yourself into a corner, ended up in hot water, or found yourself in a pretty pickle, you already know that life is rarely (if ever) just a bowl of cherries.  It is far more likely to be a bowl of problems, worries, and difficulties.  This is normal and should not be seen as cause for alarm.”  (pg 119)

The plot moves along, and many questions are raised – many, many more than are answered in this book (hence my eagerness to read the next installment).

The tension culminates at the Christmas Ball the new Lady Ashton hosts.  Lord Ashton is determined to ‘show off’ his charges, but Lady Ashton, and Miss Penelope have reservations.  Penelope and the children attend the ball anyway.  At first everything goes smoothly.  I cannot help one more delicious quote from the book:

“My heavens!” Mrs. Clark exclaimed.  “I am sure I have never seen three such extraordinarily handsome and well-turned-out-children!”

As you may know, complimentary remarks of this type are all too often made by well-meaning adults to children who are, to be frank, perfectly ordinary-looking.  This practice of overstating the case is called hyperbole.  Hyperbole is usually harmless, but in some cases it has been known to precipitate unnecessary wars as well as a painful gaseous condition called stock market bubbles. For safety’s sake, then, hyperbole should be used with restraint and only by those with the proper literary training.” (pg 188-189)

I can’t help it – that particular paragraph makes me laugh every time I read it!  It is just one example of short and delightful rabbit trails the narrator takes her readers on throughout the book – more enjoyable for adults than children, but enjoyable none-the-less.

Now that I have read and enjoyed The Mysterious Howling, I am handing it to my 12-year-old and my 10-year-old to read.  My nine-year-old and seven-year-old would enjoy the book if I read it aloud to them, but our stack of books is a bit high right now to add this one to it.

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