Howlin’ at the Moon

0061791105.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_The Mysterious Howling
by Maryrose Wood ★★★★⅓
Edition: Balzer Bray (2011), Paperback, 288 pages
Original publication date: 2010

Now there was a good bit of fun! I’m not a frequent reader of YA novels, but I do enjoy them once in a while, and this one turned out to be a real treat. Fifteen year-old Penelope Lumley, just graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females sometime in the mid 19th century, is on her way to her first job interview as a potential governess. The employers had asked for someone who gets along with animals, and as it happens she is a great animal lover and is very much looking forward to finding out what sort of creatures she will find at her potential employers’. When she arrives at Ashton place with some trepidation, not being sure whether she will be able to call this place her home or be sent away, she is greeted with mysterious howling sounds, which everyone in the estate seems to be at pains not to hear. But inevitably, she is hired and comes face to face with her charges; three young siblings, two boys and a small girl, who have grown up wild in the local woods, seemingly having been raised by wolves. Her mandate of teaching them French and Latin and Geography and Mathematics, will also have to include teaching them first to start talking like human beings and (for the boys) how to properly put a pair of pants on. The children are very attached to her and she’s delighted with their progress, though of course another big challenge is soon thrown her way; she must groom them to behave irreproachably and in very short order, to be the main attraction at a grand Christmas ball to which high dignitaries and the crème de la crème of society will be invited, and this when the children are still barely able to contain themselves from howling at the least provocation. Elements of Jane Eyre come into play when some of the mysterious howlings seemingly turn out to originate from a hidden portion of the attic. But the secret of this strange mystery will only be revealed in a further instalment (this being the first book of 4 so far in the The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series). Just as well, as I will happily continue to follow the adventures of Miss Lumley and the Incorrigibles. I should add these books are illustrated with covers and delightful b&w drawings by Canadian writer and illustrator (and 2013 Caldecott Medal winner) Jon Klassen.

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2 thoughts on “Howlin’ at the Moon

  1. in a different mood, but on the theme of feral children: “Wild Child” by T.C. Boyle. The wild child being Victor, a boy found in the Languedoc, and whose encounters with civilization weren’t all they could have been. xxx

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