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The Mysterious Howling

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are no ordinary children, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess, and mysteries abound in this first volume in a new series for ages 9+. Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perh The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are no ordinary children, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess, and mysteries abound in this first volume in a new series for ages 9+. Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent 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 help them overcome their canine tendencies. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?


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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are no ordinary children, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess, and mysteries abound in this first volume in a new series for ages 9+. Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perh The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are no ordinary children, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess, and mysteries abound in this first volume in a new series for ages 9+. Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent 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 help them overcome their canine tendencies. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

30 review for The Mysterious Howling

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    An innocent young lady arriving at a mysterious mansion to look after some wealthy person's children is not exactly a new theme, but I'm quite certain it's never been done this way before. Imagine Lemony Snicket and Victoria Holt had a doomed, clandestine encounter on a dark, forbidding moor somewhere . . . and this book was their secret shame, the bastard love-child of that tear-stained coupling. Sniff. Anyway, our dear Miss Lumley, bright eyed and bushy tailed, is eager to mold the minds of her An innocent young lady arriving at a mysterious mansion to look after some wealthy person's children is not exactly a new theme, but I'm quite certain it's never been done this way before. Imagine Lemony Snicket and Victoria Holt had a doomed, clandestine encounter on a dark, forbidding moor somewhere . . . and this book was their secret shame, the bastard love-child of that tear-stained coupling. Sniff. Anyway, our dear Miss Lumley, bright eyed and bushy tailed, is eager to mold the minds of her young charges, filling their craniums with poetry and Latin phrases, only to find her would-be pupils are three children who behave as though they were raised by wolves . . . because they were. Taken in by a spoiled rich man who sees them as some sort of novelty act to impress his friends, they are kept in the barn by the new lady of the house. But, never fear, Miss Lumley is up to the challenge, and soon has those feral tykes towing the line and reciting Longfellow, albeit Longfellow with occasional howling. And then there's the one problem that the children share with all canines . . . But now, the indomitable Miss Lumley faces her biggest challenge yet - the children must dance the schottische at the Christmas ball! There's so, SO much to love in this book! I was wild about character names like Baron Hoover and the Earl of Maytag, and Mr. Alpo, the dreaded horse retirer, and the how the children call Miss Lumley "Lumawoo." And then there're the delightfully comical illustrations by Jon Klassen: The boys try on pants for the first time. The author presents us with several delicious mysteries, none of which are solved in this volume. Who are the children's real parents? What is hidden behind the attic wall? Where was Lord Ashton when he should have been at the party? What's the deal with Old Timothy? And, will the children ever learn to spell their names and stop adding "awoo" to the ends of words? These and other quandaries will be answered, one assumes, in later volumes. I know, I know, at this point in my life the last thing I need or want is to get involved in another series, but for this little gem, I'll make an exception.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    If you see the date I finished this book, you may (or may not, who can say?) be surprised to know that I started it on July 22nd and only read on public transportation and a bit while walking down 7th Ave. in Manhattan on my way to work this morning. (That's dangerous, though, and I wouldn't recommend it even if you are rather experienced at reading and walking.) I bought the book on a whim. I liked that it had the word "incorrigible" on the cover, and the illustration appealed to me. I'm in arre If you see the date I finished this book, you may (or may not, who can say?) be surprised to know that I started it on July 22nd and only read on public transportation and a bit while walking down 7th Ave. in Manhattan on my way to work this morning. (That's dangerous, though, and I wouldn't recommend it even if you are rather experienced at reading and walking.) I bought the book on a whim. I liked that it had the word "incorrigible" on the cover, and the illustration appealed to me. I'm in arrears when it comes to gifts for my niece, who is a wicked smart 9-year-old, and after reading a few pages of it, I decided she'd like it. I also decided I liked it for her because it had lots of big, useful words that she could stand to have as a part of her vocabulary and because, even in the first bit, I could see that it was going to be literary. Well, I had some time to kill at the register of the fabulous McNally Jackson Bookstore while the clerk helped a few customers before wrapping another gift I'd bought (for free!), and so I went on past the first few pages. I was utterly hooked. The novel had a Jane-Eyre-only-more-fun air to it, and some ways in, it directly referenced the novel. It also directly referenced Moby Dick and Charles Dickens as well as quoting Longfellow and there's still more to it. The Mysterious Howling is exactly the sort of book I'd have liked to read when I was young and that I enjoyed reading now for a little young-at-heart escape from the everyday ho-hum. My only complaint against it--and I honestly don't know how anyone could have any other--is that I will have to wait nearly a year for the next installment. This book gave me the pure pleasure of reading that I experienced while diving into Harry Potter, and I think in some ways I may like this even better.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    When you're a parent or a librarian or a teacher or a bookseller who reads a lot of children's books, you sometimes wish for fun. Children's books are often by their very nature "fun". But there's fun that's strained and trying to appeal to everyone and then there's fun that appears to be effortless. You read a book, are transported elsewhere, lose track of time, and never want the story to end. It's the kind of fun a person encounters in a book like Book One of The Incorrigible Children of Asht When you're a parent or a librarian or a teacher or a bookseller who reads a lot of children's books, you sometimes wish for fun. Children's books are often by their very nature "fun". But there's fun that's strained and trying to appeal to everyone and then there's fun that appears to be effortless. You read a book, are transported elsewhere, lose track of time, and never want the story to end. It's the kind of fun a person encounters in a book like Book One of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. In The Mysterious Howling you meet a book that's a little like Jane Eyre, a little like Jane Yolen's Children of the Wolf, and a little like nothing at all. Pure pleasure for kids, for adults, for everyone. Treat yourself. If you were to hire a governess from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, you would find yourself with a young lady of exceptionable talents, knowledge, and intellect. Such is the case when Lord Frederick and Lady Constance hire fifteen-year-old Penelope Lumley to be governess of three children. The catch? Well, they're not your average nippers, these three. Found on the sprawling acreage of Lord Frederick's estate, the children appear to have been raised entirely by wolves. Literally. Their new guardians have dubbed them "The Incorrigibles" and are expecting miracles. Now it is up to Miss Lumley to get them civilized and educated or it's to the orphanage with them and unemployment for her. And there are certainly strange goings on at Ashton Place, that's for certain. Does someone have it in for the children? Where does Lord Frederick constantly disappear to? Is there something nasty lurking in the attic? Fortunately for everyone Miss Lumley is made of sturdy stuff, and it will take more than a mystery or two to keep her from fulfilling her duties to the fullest. Since the story takes place in the year when Moby Dick first came out, we can place the period of this piece somewhere around the early to mid-1850s. However, this does nothing to prevent author Maryrose Wood from leaping forward and backwards in time in terms of the narration. It is not uncommon for the story to say something along the lines of "nowadays it would make a fine documentary for broadcast on a nature channel on cable television" and then go right back into the past again. The effect is mildly jarring the first time it happens, but as it goes on the reader gets a feel for Wood's style. Books of this nature (which is to say, gothic books for kids) these days have a tendency to be compared to the works of Lemony Snicket. I would argue that there is very little in this book that is similar to Mr. Snicket's works, except perhaps the delightful vocabulary (though Snicket never seriously attempted Latin the way this book does) and the narrator's tendency to become a confidant of the reader. What is most remarkable is how well constructed the entire endeavor is. Ms. Wood manages to make the whole story fit together like a little puzzle. A Christmas party must occur on the night of the full moon since that is when guests will best be able to see their way. At the same time, perhaps there are other connections to full moons that we should remember. You never really see where the plot is going until it gets there, so predictable this book is not. Best of all are all the characters. Each one is unique, distinct, and memorable. Even the villains, such as they are, are sympathetic in their headstrong ways. And our heroine, Miss Lumley, is the kind of companion you'd readily follow through book after book. Just as the children come to trust her, so do you, the reader. I suppose one might question whether or not this is the kind of book that actual honest-to-goodness kids will enjoy, as opposed to gothicly inclined adults. After all, the heroine is fifteen and the story is about her occupation. That said, the real stars of the show are The Incorrigibles themselves. You cannot help but fall instantly in love with them the moment you meet them, and I can see many a kid identifying with them. And while the heroine of this story is a woman, I dare say that there will be boys out there who latch on to the whole "raised by wolves" aspect of the story and find it right up their alley as well. Sell this book to kids correctly and you'll find them (forgive me, but I managed to keep from saying it for this long) howling for more. Illustrator Jon Klassen is to be credited for providing the loveliest little illustrations to the story. Where some illustrators might have provided images that would make the book appear older, or more teen, Klassen's pictures actually give the story a younger feel. There is much that is adorable about this tale, and I think the artist captures that perfectly. While a reader is being charmed by the fact that the kids call Miss Lumley "Lumawoo", Klassen draws the children as bright, pert, and friendly. They often complement or clarify the action better than the book would alone. Even the author herself once said that the image of the children reenacting Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus" (note that Cassiopeia has lashed herself to a potted fern) might be her own personal favorite image in the book. Well, there's nothing for it but to love it, really. If I do have a beef with it, it may have something to do with the fact that you never really learn the answer to any of the mysteries that come up by the end of this story. Readers will be panting to know more (no pun intended) and then find that they have to wait to read the next book in the series before anything is resolved. Fortunately, they'll scramble to read that next book with very little prodding. For some kids, this will act as a follow-up to Lemony Snicket. For others, an intro to Jane Eyre. And for most, this will be the kind of story you read over and over again, just to taste the language and meet the characters again. Just the loveliest little book. One hopes we'll be seeing many more of its kind very soon indeed. For ages 9-12.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Charlyn

    Hmmmm, take the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Then make Anne Sullivan a fifteen-year-old first-time nanny from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and make Helen Keller three children raised by wolves and found by a wealthy landowner. Then set it in Victorian England and add large punches of Lemony Snicket-y humor and you've got a fair idea of this book. Oh, yes, make it a series, with the first one ending leaving the reader wanting more. Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia ( Hmmmm, take the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Then make Anne Sullivan a fifteen-year-old first-time nanny from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and make Helen Keller three children raised by wolves and found by a wealthy landowner. Then set it in Victorian England and add large punches of Lemony Snicket-y humor and you've got a fair idea of this book. Oh, yes, make it a series, with the first one ending leaving the reader wanting more. Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia (named by the Ashton gent who found them) are lumped together as the Incorrigibles. Alexander is the oldest; Beowulf is next; and then little Cassiopeia. When Lord Ashton brought them home, his wife, Lady Constance--still quite young herself--is over-whelmed with the responsibility. She hires Miss Penelope Lumley who arrives with little more than her stock of Agatha Swanburne quotes burned into her memory and the desire to teach the children Latin, geometry, and all the other subjects young children of that time period might need to study. Unfortunately, it is more necessary for Miss Lumley to teach the youngsters not to bay at the moon and chase wild animals and to become their protector as well as their teacher. This first book in the series introduces the cast of characters and brings the children to their introduction to society at a Christmas party. Where they came from is one of several mysteries not answered in this volume. Who undermines the Christmas party is another. Inquisitive readers with a well-developed sense of humor will want to learn more about Lumawoooo and her three charges.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    There are some serious problems with this book. I will present them in a list: 1. The sub-title, "The Mysterious Howling." This "mysterious howling" is only mentioned in the last chapter and never revealed. It is a weak attempt at drawing readers into committing to reading the next book in the series. 2. There is absolutely no reason for this book to become a series. There is not enough meat to it. It could have been a good one-off book, if the author had been allowed to address #1 and finish it a There are some serious problems with this book. I will present them in a list: 1. The sub-title, "The Mysterious Howling." This "mysterious howling" is only mentioned in the last chapter and never revealed. It is a weak attempt at drawing readers into committing to reading the next book in the series. 2. There is absolutely no reason for this book to become a series. There is not enough meat to it. It could have been a good one-off book, if the author had been allowed to address #1 and finish it as a complete tale in one installment. This is the problem with modern YA publishing. HarperCollins shame on you. Stop trying to make money from series that shouldn't be. 3. The intended target audience for this book is middle school (approximately ages 10-12). While there are 3 minor characters who are actual children (the children referenced in the title) the focus of the story is on and the perspective of the story is from that of the 15 year old governess, Ms. Lumley. While by today's standards middle schoolers would be interested in the story of a 15-year-old, this book is set in the 1800's. At that time, a 15 year old would have been considered a full-fledged adult, and this main character certainly reads as an adult. Unlike Mary Poppins, an adult governess who's filled with wacky funny stories, this governess is concerned with very adult themes. Themes that middle-schoolers would have a hard time relating to or even noticing. There just is no reason for children of this age to want to read this. 4. I don't know why it is that authors who write "teacher-type" characters feel the need to have that character preach the author's "wisdom" to the reader through the book. It is condescending, it certainly is not what a good teacher would do in his/her own class room, and it frankly is just poor writing. In a good story the lesson(s) will be inferred by the reader. It would not need to be told directly. 5. Clearly the author has little understanding of the process of education and how children's brains develop. It would be impossible for children raised by wolves, who do not speak English, to be able to not only fully speak and understand English after a mere week but also equally impossible (and laughable to suggest) that they would be able to read, translate and speak Latin (in the context of sentences) within a month's time. I might have been able to overlook this, if the story had been better. As an adult reading this book I can say that there are some truly good moments in it. This is why I gave it 2 stars. However, either through the fault of the publisher, the editor, or the author they are brief moments that never really develop into much. Had the story been told through the eyes of the children and had it been treated as a complete novel and not an installment, Ms. Wood may have had something here. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    Totally implausible but endearing story-beginning of a fifteen-year-old orphan (who seems more like 30) employed as governess to three children raised by wolves. Humor and hijinks abound.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    Raised by wolves children find stately home and governess. Wolf tendencies prevail although lovely governess does her best. Stately home owners show themselves and friends in a bad light. Lots of mystery, humour, and lovely names. Lumawoo is wonderful and wise beyond her years. Some philosophy on if it's morally right to kill. The story was quite climactic at the party towards the end but reached no conclusion. I don't feel we have been left on a cliff hanger, more we have started on a huge book Raised by wolves children find stately home and governess. Wolf tendencies prevail although lovely governess does her best. Stately home owners show themselves and friends in a bad light. Lots of mystery, humour, and lovely names. Lumawoo is wonderful and wise beyond her years. Some philosophy on if it's morally right to kill. The story was quite climactic at the party towards the end but reached no conclusion. I don't feel we have been left on a cliff hanger, more we have started on a huge book that has been cut into pieces to be sold to us in chunks.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Destinee Sutton

    Another Lemony Snicket-y goody! Its only shortcoming as a book is that it's the first in a series and therefore a big tease. No revelations, just setup. But really funny, smart, enjoyable setup. It's a fantastic audiobook--I dare say possibly better than reading it because the narrator does some awesome howling. Today I kept hearing "Lumawoo" and "Cassawoof" and "Nutsawoo" in my head. So great!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Franquie

    This was such a fun book to listen to (Audible). The story was funny and engaging, and would be enjoyable for both children and adults alike. A thoroughly enjoyable book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I might start with a quote (no, not by the great Ms. Agatha Swanburne; no, neither is it by the plucky heroine of our story, Miss Penelope Lumley). I start with a quote by the authoress herself, Miss Maryrose Wood: 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 I might start with a quote (no, not by the great Ms. Agatha Swanburne; no, neither is it by the plucky heroine of our story, Miss Penelope Lumley). I start with a quote by the authoress herself, Miss Maryrose Wood: 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 cause for alarm. Smart, pithy, and whimsical, The Mysterious Howling has something for everyone. I am so glad that this is just book one in a strong new series for middle grade readers (and those that value good literature at any age). The Mysterious Howling is a must read good read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there mateys! This was an impulse borrow from a local library. I needed an audiobook to listen to and this was the only one that sounded even slightly good to me in me mood that day. I thought the narrator, Katherine Kellgren was fantastic and she made the book for me. Her voices had me giggling. There is a sequence with a squirrel that was just divine. The story is about a governess who sets up to meet her charges and finds a crazy situation where the children were raised by wolves. I fell Ahoy there mateys! This was an impulse borrow from a local library. I needed an audiobook to listen to and this was the only one that sounded even slightly good to me in me mood that day. I thought the narrator, Katherine Kellgren was fantastic and she made the book for me. Her voices had me giggling. There is a sequence with a squirrel that was just divine. The story is about a governess who sets up to meet her charges and finds a crazy situation where the children were raised by wolves. I fell in love with both the governess and the three incorrigible children. This is a six book series and I do want to listen to all of the others. This would be a great book to listen to in a long car trip. Arrr! Side note: Apparently Katherine Kellgren narrated over 300 audiobooks. She passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer. I am glad there is lots of her work to experience and remember her by. This article lists the top five of which this novel was one. I have been meaning to read the Bloody Jack series. Now that I know it has been narrated by her it is a must-listen to this year. Hell, I need to listen to the whole list. Arrr!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I really wanted to like this book. The set-up was fun, and the writing is endearing, but when you think of the premise of an overly young Victorian governess bringing children raised by wolves into high society, well, antics ensue, right? Yes. On page 220. The rest of the book is about a nice schoolmarm that teaches these three students with unbelievable effectiveness whilst they behave themselves. The book is more a catalog of what they learn and how good they are (oops one accidentally opens a I really wanted to like this book. The set-up was fun, and the writing is endearing, but when you think of the premise of an overly young Victorian governess bringing children raised by wolves into high society, well, antics ensue, right? Yes. On page 220. The rest of the book is about a nice schoolmarm that teaches these three students with unbelievable effectiveness whilst they behave themselves. The book is more a catalog of what they learn and how good they are (oops one accidentally opens a door that he shouldn't). It's like Mary Poppins without the magic. Occasionally we are exposed to a distant step-father figure with a "mystery" so telegraphed that I'm surprised the author didn't just state suspicions outright then dismiss them as fantasy. A step-mother figure who, what a surprise, is a jerk, and some other names of people that huff a lot or are jerks. So, that leaves the relationship between the governess and the children. It almost works except that they have no personality. Of the three kids, only the sister is marginally different because she does "girl" stuff. I dare anyone to find a feature that is present in one of the two boys that identifies him (besides younger/older and what temperature they like their bath). Even the teacher when presented by a situation that showed how they weren't understood on a personal level compared her thoughtful gifts, indicating that she knew them, but really they were more school stuff that was remotely age and sex "appropriate." The kids are ciphers; used only to tell the story, and yet, the story fights tooth and nail (ha!) to be told. Finally at the end of the book there is something of a mystery, but who cares by this point? It's a shame. It could have been great. I'd say that it seriously needed an editorial work-over, but based on the success of the series, clearly she is doing something right.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I don't often read children's books nowadays (I hide almost entirely behind the guise of being a sophisticated adult), but I had heard great things about Maryrose Wood's work - namely that her Ashton Place series is much like a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and my beloved Jane Eyre. It also reminded me quite a bit of Colin Meloy's Wildwood books. The Mysterious Howling, the first in the Ashton Place series, is well written throughout, and engaging from the very be I don't often read children's books nowadays (I hide almost entirely behind the guise of being a sophisticated adult), but I had heard great things about Maryrose Wood's work - namely that her Ashton Place series is much like a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and my beloved Jane Eyre. It also reminded me quite a bit of Colin Meloy's Wildwood books. The Mysterious Howling, the first in the Ashton Place series, is well written throughout, and engaging from the very beginning. There is almost a Gothic feel to the novel, and it presents a nice slice of Victoriana to its readers. The characters are realistically drawn, whether young or old. Wood's formula works well, and it is certainly a series which I will be continuing with; after all, it makes for a nice and refreshing break from thesis research!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Delightful! I had only vaguely heard of this book until this spring, when Maryrose Wood spoke at a conference I attended. She was so lovely I bought this and had it signed for my kids, mostly to sort of high-five her for her great keynote address. But I thought I'd read it myself before passing it on... So wonderful! I don't really like a lot of recent middle grade- shocking, I know! There are too many bickering siblings and idiot parents for my taste. But there was none of that here. Instead it Delightful! I had only vaguely heard of this book until this spring, when Maryrose Wood spoke at a conference I attended. She was so lovely I bought this and had it signed for my kids, mostly to sort of high-five her for her great keynote address. But I thought I'd read it myself before passing it on... So wonderful! I don't really like a lot of recent middle grade- shocking, I know! There are too many bickering siblings and idiot parents for my taste. But there was none of that here. Instead it reminded me of Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase, or Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace, which were favorites of mine in grade school. I loved it so much, I am planning to buy the second one today! I must know more!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I read this in one sitting last night. It was very "Lemony Snickett-y" is the tone and sense of humor. I thought Miss Lumley (also known as Lumawoo) was adorable in her no-nonsense governess position. And the children, so funny, the little wolflings with their wild habits and trusting ways. I will look for the next in this series. I will also recommend them to my nieces (ages 10 and 9) as I believe this is a good series for little girls.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is the thoroughly charming Victorian tribute/spoof tale of Miss Penelope Lumley, fifteen years old and a new graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, and her first job as governess. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is greeted the a wildly enthusiastic young mistress (recently married) who seems rather too eager to engage Miss Lumley in the position, even going so far as to have her sign a contract. The "mysterious howling" noise Penelope hears gives her only momentary This is the thoroughly charming Victorian tribute/spoof tale of Miss Penelope Lumley, fifteen years old and a new graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, and her first job as governess. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is greeted the a wildly enthusiastic young mistress (recently married) who seems rather too eager to engage Miss Lumley in the position, even going so far as to have her sign a contract. The "mysterious howling" noise Penelope hears gives her only momentary pause, so enthusiastic is she to begin nurturing young minds. Plus, the advertisement had indicated that the applicants must be fond of animals. Penelope, a devout fan of the "Giddy-Yap, Rainbow!" pony stories, just *knows* there will be beautiful ponies for the children to ride at Ashton Place, and she can hardly wait to begin her work. But, things are not quite what they seem... I came to this story knowing virtually nothing about it, though I have always been intrigued by the title and knew it received generally good reviews. My main reason for reading it when I did is that we had a road trip planned and the audiobook narrator is Katherine Kellgren, whom I adore. So, I knew the audiobook would be an entertaining companion for our trip. I was beyond pleased, for not only was the book pleasantly written, with lovely description, witty observations, and vibrant characters, but Miss Penelope Lumley is the sort of person I would love to meet and befriend in real life. One of my favorite things is to read about a character that I wish I really knew, and I think Penelope is one swell girl! :-) It will come as no surprise to those who read the back cover blurb, or even paid some careful attention to the cover with an eye for extrapolation, but I (having done neither) was surprised that the "mysterious howling" was actually the three children of Ashton Place. Lord Frederick found them while he was hunting in the woods one day and brought them back. "Finders keepers" and all that. They were on his land, so they are his, he believes. Though his lovely and high-strung young wife wishes he would simply send the children to the orphanage, Lord Frederick seems to believe they are the sort of novelty that make him stand out to his friends, so he wants to keep them. It falls to Miss Lumley to help the children learn to speak English, stop chasing (and, presumably, eating) squirrels, and learn their manners... not to mention all the academic subjects she is determined to teach them. One element of the story I really appreciated was the respect and concern Penelope showed for all living creatures. All in all, I was completely engaged in the story though I give it four stars instead of five because I did, on occasion, want more. There didn't seem to be enough of a conflict or story arc for awhile, and the end was barely an ending at all but, rather, a set-up for the sequel. Argh! I was also miffed and intrigued by the inclusion of a possible supernatural element hinted at in the end (interesting idea, though annoying that it just popped up so suddenly at the end) though whether or not the author meant to lead us to believe that or it was simply my own overactive imagination after eight hours in the car remains to be seen in the sequel, which I will inevitably read (or, better yet, listen to. Katherine Kellgren really does a great job here, especially in conveying the howling-Enlgish dialogue of the children. I love when the children call their teacher "Lamarooooo!")

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jackie "the Librarian"

    In this amusing book, similar in style to the Lemony Snicket "Series of Unfortunate Events" series, but not as dark or arch, 15 year old Penelope Lumley, nervous but determined, is sent from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females to work as a governess (in the style of Jane Eyre). She is hopeful of finding bright young children to fill up with learning and, ideally, ponies. She has a thing for ponies. The gimmick is, the children, two boys and a girl, need some remedial work first, as the In this amusing book, similar in style to the Lemony Snicket "Series of Unfortunate Events" series, but not as dark or arch, 15 year old Penelope Lumley, nervous but determined, is sent from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females to work as a governess (in the style of Jane Eyre). She is hopeful of finding bright young children to fill up with learning and, ideally, ponies. She has a thing for ponies. The gimmick is, the children, two boys and a girl, need some remedial work first, as they've been raised by wolves. Naturally, they get easily distracted by things like squirrels. Penelope is undaunted, and is fortunately good with animals. She wins them over quickly with just the right look, and soon has them literally eating out of her hand. Treats are useful learning tools for kids as well as wolf pups. I must say, they are quick learners, and amazingly learn enough Latin to impress party guests at Christmas within a month, although they can't seem to talk without adding a little "woooo" to the end of every sentence. It's adorable, but the focus is on Penelope, not the kids, who never become distinct as characters. No, this isn't a book about character development. It's all mystery mystery mystery - how did the children end up with wolves? What nefarious plans are there for the children, that appear to involve hunting? And the master of the house may have some dark secret, why else would be be away at every full moon? And Penelope herself is not exactly an orphan. How did she end up at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females? Where are her parents? Why has her hair been kept dyed by the teachers at her old institute? But as much as I enjoyed all this set up, I wonder who is the intended audience? It's published as juvenile fiction, and the font IS large, and there are pictures sprinkled throughout the short text, but the main character is a 15-year-old girl, modeled (very lightly) after Jane Eyre. I'm not sure elementary school kids will relate, and teens may find it too young-looking to want to pick up. And the narrative references to things like "stock market bubbles" as an example of irrational exuberance is funny, if you're a librarian or teacher, but will zoom over the heads of all but the nerdiest of kids. I'd be interested in having a kid read this to see what she thought about it all. I don't know who I'd recommend this to. Kids? Teens? Librarians who love Jane Eyre? I liked it, and I want to read the next one. I say, if it sounds like your cup of tea, give it a try. :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sesana

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect about this book. Feral children, yes, certainly, but the synopsis makes it sound anything but serious. And I was delighted to discover that it really isn't. More than anything, I would call this a sort of gentle poke at (and tribute to) Victorian governess stories, with a narrator that felt somewhat Lemony to me. It's enhanced by the deliberately dramatic reading of the narrator on the audiobook, which made the whole thing great fun to listen to. Sure, it's wond I wasn't quite sure what to expect about this book. Feral children, yes, certainly, but the synopsis makes it sound anything but serious. And I was delighted to discover that it really isn't. More than anything, I would call this a sort of gentle poke at (and tribute to) Victorian governess stories, with a narrator that felt somewhat Lemony to me. It's enhanced by the deliberately dramatic reading of the narrator on the audiobook, which made the whole thing great fun to listen to. Sure, it's wonderfully inaccurate, but Wood makes absolutely no pretension to accuracy. But where this book will succeed or fail will depend largely, I think, on how you feel about the main character, young governess Penelope Lumley. The first chapter or so she grated on me a bit, seeming to be too melodramatic for my tastes. Luckily, that turned out to be a minor aspect of her character. I was quite expecting her reaction to meeting her charges and discovering that they're feral children to be disbelief, possibly anger at being tricked into teaching them. I expected there to be a lengthy series of endearing events before she takes the children into her heart, blah blah blah. Luckily, we were spared all that, because Penelope loves animals. I highly suspect that she liked the children all the more for their animalistic traits. It was a pleasant surprise. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the sheer quantity of unanswered questions. Where did the children come from? For that matter, where did Penelope come from? I admit, I'm more than just intrigued, and I'll be more than happy to listen to the rest of the audiobooks in the series.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Chung

    I wanted to like this book more, but I just didn't. The beginning started off very well. Penelope Lumley, a fifteen year old graduate from Swanburne Academy is on her way to, hopefully a new job. Penelope is very nervous, this being her first job interview. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is disturbed to hear howling and barking. The lady of the house, Lady Constance, hires Miss Lumely before giving any details about the children. We the readers find out in the first chapter that the child I wanted to like this book more, but I just didn't. The beginning started off very well. Penelope Lumley, a fifteen year old graduate from Swanburne Academy is on her way to, hopefully a new job. Penelope is very nervous, this being her first job interview. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is disturbed to hear howling and barking. The lady of the house, Lady Constance, hires Miss Lumely before giving any details about the children. We the readers find out in the first chapter that the children were found in the woods and raised by wolves. That, Fredrick Ashton, man of the house found the children and therefore, "finders..keepers". The story talks about in great length how Miss Lumley teaches her knew charges and how she grows to love them. I became quite bored towards the middle and the ending was not awful but...I just didn't care for it. It seemed cruel. I have read Lemony Snickett and his Unfortunate Events and those books are just better written. The narrator tries to engage the reader through out the book, but it just falls flat. Furthermore the narrator talks about microwaves and other modern devices, which is confusing because I'm assuming the story takes place maybe a century ago. I was confused at parts. I'm not sure I will be continuing this series. It was not my cup of tea.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Imagine a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Jane Eyre, and that would give you an idea of how engrossing and enjoyable the first book in Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is. Miss Penelope Lumley is 15 years old, and having completed her studies at Agatha Swanburne's Academy for Poor Bright Females, she is summoned to an interview at Ashton Place, the home of Lord and Lady Ashton. She is expecting a rigorous interview, and is instead Imagine a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Jane Eyre, and that would give you an idea of how engrossing and enjoyable the first book in Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is. Miss Penelope Lumley is 15 years old, and having completed her studies at Agatha Swanburne's Academy for Poor Bright Females, she is summoned to an interview at Ashton Place, the home of Lord and Lady Ashton. She is expecting a rigorous interview, and is instead surprised to find Lady Constance begging her to stay. However, unline the young Browns or Banks, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible are not naughty; they were discovered in the forests surrounding Ashton Place, apparently raised by wolves and with an unfortunate fascination with squirrels. As many teachers have asked themselves, what does one do with a child who growls in public? Penelope does incredibly well until, at one of the most hilarious Christmas parties I have ever read about, events come to a head and the mystery is at least partially explained; of course, there is a sequel... I recommend this book for confident readers of 9+, and of course their teachers, parents and relatives!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    So much fun. And kind of adorable while being funny and mysterious. Penelope Lumley, new governess, arrives at Ashton Place and must care for three orphaned children who seem to have been raised by wolves, based on their howling and proclivities. Penelope has her work cut out for her, She is determined that they'll be reading latin, among other things eventually, all while learning good manners and deportment. Using respect, warmth and kindness, Penelope makes great strides forwards with the chi So much fun. And kind of adorable while being funny and mysterious. Penelope Lumley, new governess, arrives at Ashton Place and must care for three orphaned children who seem to have been raised by wolves, based on their howling and proclivities. Penelope has her work cut out for her, She is determined that they'll be reading latin, among other things eventually, all while learning good manners and deportment. Using respect, warmth and kindness, Penelope makes great strides forwards with the children, enough so that they're speaking some comprehensible english by Christmas. This is seeminly undone at a Christmas party. And though Penelope doesn't lose her position, as she feared based on the party's results, she is left with many questions as to who deliberately sabotaged the children's control over their behaviour, where did the children come from, who lives in the walls (according to the children), what's up with Lord Ashton and his club friends, and what is his purpose behind adamantly keeping the orphans, when his wife clearly feels differently? I guess I'll find out in more in book two.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎

    I picked this book because I liked its retro drawings, in addition to the cover, the book includes a number of sketches that illustrate events in the story, they bring back memories of my childhood well thumbed) books. This book target audience is 7-12 years olds and it has wonderful descriptive language, which is something that I appreciate in children’s books. I read it alongside my son who also approved this novel (great bonus, Yay for mum!). The story is engaging, the appeal of a mystery and I picked this book because I liked its retro drawings, in addition to the cover, the book includes a number of sketches that illustrate events in the story, they bring back memories of my childhood well thumbed) books. This book target audience is 7-12 years olds and it has wonderful descriptive language, which is something that I appreciate in children’s books. I read it alongside my son who also approved this novel (great bonus, Yay for mum!). The story is engaging, the appeal of a mystery and a charming governess …. I would recommend this book to reluctant readers and fans of Lemony Snicket. While reading I also listened to its audio version, which I would recommend, as Katherine Kellgren does a great job with the narration.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I’m looking forward to passing this one on to my Granddaughter, and finding out what she thinks of it.....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Edwards

    This was a really intriguing novel about a young governess who gets tricked into taking care of three children who seem to have been raised by wolves before being found by a hunter one day. But there's something very fishy going on; someone seems to sabotaging the children's efforts to assimilate, but who? It is reminiscent of Jane Eyre, kind of a children's version with a touch of The Jungle Book. I got into and it was very fast-paced. It would have easily had a 5 star review if not for the end This was a really intriguing novel about a young governess who gets tricked into taking care of three children who seem to have been raised by wolves before being found by a hunter one day. But there's something very fishy going on; someone seems to sabotaging the children's efforts to assimilate, but who? It is reminiscent of Jane Eyre, kind of a children's version with a touch of The Jungle Book. I got into and it was very fast-paced. It would have easily had a 5 star review if not for the ending. Nothing felt resolved - it just happened to come to a stopping point. It way-too-obviously forces you to read the next book in the series to get a complete picture. Other than that, I really enjoyed this title.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)

    Miss Penelope Lumley is eager to embrace her first job as a governess. She has just graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and is ready to put the sayings of the school's founder, the redoubtable Agatha Swanburne, into action. Though her plans to teach her pupils Latin declensions might have to be put on hold for awhile at least. The thing is, when she arrives at Ashton Place she learns the truth, her three charges were found in the woods where it is presumed they were rais Miss Penelope Lumley is eager to embrace her first job as a governess. She has just graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and is ready to put the sayings of the school's founder, the redoubtable Agatha Swanburne, into action. Though her plans to teach her pupils Latin declensions might have to be put on hold for awhile at least. The thing is, when she arrives at Ashton Place she learns the truth, her three charges were found in the woods where it is presumed they were raised by wolves. Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia Incorrigible were discovered by Lord Fredrick Ashton when he was out hunting, and as everyone knows, finders keepers! Miss Lumley first encounters her charges out in the barn quite literally howling. Now she sees why the advertisement for the job requested "experience with animals." But growing up at the Swanburne Academy Penelope's favorite books were the Giddy-Yap, Rainbow! books about the adventures of a pony named Rainbow and her young mistress, Edith-Anne Pevington. The volume Silky Mischief, wherein Rainbow saved an ill-tempered pony, left an indelible mark on Penelope and she knows that if Rainbow could save Silky she can save these three young children. It isn't long before she has them indoors and properly attired, though squirrels continue to be a problem. Miss Lumley is confident and bold with her unique lessons, but she worries about an ultimatum laid down that the children be ready to be presented at Lord Fredrick's new wife's holiday soiree. Could it undo all the progress she has made? And what if a squirrel were to appear? While a series of books written about a group of children raised by wolves sounds almost too gimmicky to be enjoyable, there is something so endearing about the Incorrigibles that you can't help but fall in love with them. In fact there's many things about this book that in any other book I would have been annoyed and aggravated with, but somehow I just found it all so charming. For example, anachronisms usually drive me batty, yet for a book set around 1850, these interruptions from a modern narrator which introduce the anachronisms somehow work. Like Lemony Snicket explaining words within his narrative, this gimmick becomes stylistically part of the story and just works. And yes, I know saying something "just works" is a very imprecise way of describing something and seems as if I'm trying to get out of more explanation, but knowing when something works and when something doesn't work is an ineffable quality. It's easier to describe something when it doesn't work. You can point to a specific passage or event and go, there it is, that's where it failed. To point at something and go, now that's where it works, well, that's harder. The book is a cohesive whole, it flows and doesn't jar or annoy. Everything follows in a logical and well written pattern and at the end there's nothing that displeased you except coming to the end. I had an ineffably good time with a smile on my face the entire time I read this book, and if you need more convincing, I'm not sure how I could convince you. But let me give it a good old Swanburne try! One aspect of the book that would normally be a stumbling block for me was Miss Lumely's love of the Giddy-Yap, Rainbow! books. See, the thing is, I'm not a horse girl. I wasn't the girl at school longing for the weekend when they could go visit their pony or go ride somewhere for lessons, and yes, I did know a few. I think the fact that I was never the girl screaming for a pony for her birthday pleased my mother, who grew up on a farm surrounded by horse girls. Yet, unlike other authors who would play to this horse loving crowd, Wood doesn't write just for them, thus alienating her non-horse readers. Yes, the horse lovers might get something more out of The Mysterious Howling, but the book lovers who can't pass up a good series, and the animal lovers are also part of this book's audience. In fact, the Giddy-Yap, Rainbow! books reminded me of the Serendipity book series by Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James. When I was growing up these kitschy illustrated books about all kids of animals from cats to unicorns were all the rage. Sure there was a moral to the tale, but it was the love of animals and the illustrations that drew me to these books. So while I can't relate to the horse aspect here, I can relate to the animal aspect and in extension the animal book series aspect. I can relate to the love and care that animals show humans and vice-versa and how this love for all living creatures helped Miss Lumley forge a bond with her charges that other governesses wouldn't have been able to do. Going further into the "animal" nature of the children, I think what makes this series stand out is the children's use of language. Everyone who has ever loved or cared for animals knows that they speak in their own language. Cats have a certain way of speaking, as do dogs, and as do the aforementioned horses. Therefore it makes sense that these three Incorrigibles being raised as they were would have their own language as well. Now this is a very fine line that Wood is walking. Like books that use vernacular there's the danger of being incomprehensible on one end of the spectrum, and on the other is the danger of being too cutesy. But the truth is, their language usage isn't precocious or twee, it's simply enchanting and addictive. From Lumawoo, their affectionate name for Miss Lumley, to various ahwoos punctuated with barks and growls, their language is adorable and you instantly want to adopt it as your own. Much like how little children sometimes can't quite say certain words or letters growing up and nicknames for people and things develop, so does the Incorrigible language form. Yet you aren't on the outside looking in like someone mildly revolted by a couples overly cutesy nicknames for each other, you're on the inside, instantly seeing how cute it all is. You're in on the joke, so that makes all the difference. Your perspective is key. Where I took the greatest joy though was in all the literary allusions and references that add a level for the adult readers. There is no doubt that Miss Lumley is of the Jane Eyre type, a sensible governess in early Victorian times. Therefore there is all that Gothic goodness to sink your teeth into. But what I took most fun with was trying to pinpoint the year the book takes place. With all the modern references peaking in, you'd think the book might be slightly timeless, but you'd be wrong. I mentioned earlier 1850, and that wasn't arbitrary, in fact, to be more specific, let's say 1851. Leaving aside the fact that at the author talk I went to Maryrose Wood also said 1851. Because while in the audience I did a little hope of joy because I had already reached that conclusion by the allusions in the text. The two key pieces of evidence for the literary sleuths are the publication of Moby Dick, and the reference to the new fashion of "the cage" which Elizabeth Gaskell wrote a short story about. These two mentions place the book firmly in 1851. I love to think of kids years from now going back to these books, which have hopefully become favorites, and seeing all that they missed before. Not the cutesy Rainbow books, that are the type of books we love as children, but other, more adult things, like the tableaux of Longfellow's work. These are books that you can read on many levels and grow into, and that makes them so good. But the literary allusions, while all well and good, bring me to the fact that, for me, it's the time period that makes The Mysterious Howling. Yes, because of the time period, the literary allusions add to it, but it's the time period itself that I love. I love the mid 19th century. Dickens, the Brontes, Gaskell, Eliot, all these amazing writers creating a sense of place. If I had to describe this book in one sentence it would be Victorian Addams Family with a Lemony Snicket vibe. And really, there couldn't be higher praise from me than this. I devoured the A Series of Unfortunate Event books, and as for the Addams Family, they are a way of life for me. Combining the two around a Gothic center, well, I felt like these books were written just for me. In fact the second I finished The Mysterious Howling I wanted to dive right into The Hidden Gallery. But I didn't. I didn't because I knew that I'd then have to read them all right away and there's nothing that hurts a review more than getting muddled in a series and not being able to do each individual book justice. Plus I had some Sherlock Holmes to read... But you can be confident that now that I have finally written this review that the next volume by Maryrose Wood will quickly be making it's way to the top of my to be read pile, because I literally can't wait.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Payne

    I reserve 5 stars for books that are life-changing, deeply impactful in a thought-provoking or touching way, or just plain ‘ol so good I couldn’t give it 4 stars. Only a small percentage get 5 stars - the 4 star books are Great books. I gave this one 5 stars because of a few of reasons. It was so clever and funny, every chapter was a relentless joy! Also, we listened to this on audio and the narrator excelled - a better reading I’m not sure I’ve Ever heard. I was blown away with her acting and c I reserve 5 stars for books that are life-changing, deeply impactful in a thought-provoking or touching way, or just plain ‘ol so good I couldn’t give it 4 stars. Only a small percentage get 5 stars - the 4 star books are Great books. I gave this one 5 stars because of a few of reasons. It was so clever and funny, every chapter was a relentless joy! Also, we listened to this on audio and the narrator excelled - a better reading I’m not sure I’ve Ever heard. I was blown away with her acting and characterization moment by moment. And finally, this book spoke in a loving and humorous way to my idea of an ideal eduction, which was a constant thrill! I identified so deeply with Penelope! Could Miss Agatha Swanbone have been partially modeled after Charlotte Mason? I look forward to listening to Book 2 in the series (I cannot read this one any other way - the narrator is too good to miss!!)!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is an enchantingly silly and endearingly sweet book. I read it aloud to my kids over the past month or so, and we all enjoyed it so much, we got the next book out of the library as soon as we returned this one. My husband and I laughed more over this book than our kids did, to be honest. A lot of the humor was aimed more adults, very subtle with lots of allusions to other books or the way the "real world" works. Nothing risque or "adult" so much as just turns of phrase that made us laugh or This is an enchantingly silly and endearingly sweet book. I read it aloud to my kids over the past month or so, and we all enjoyed it so much, we got the next book out of the library as soon as we returned this one. My husband and I laughed more over this book than our kids did, to be honest. A lot of the humor was aimed more adults, very subtle with lots of allusions to other books or the way the "real world" works. Nothing risque or "adult" so much as just turns of phrase that made us laugh or unexpected ways of describing something or someone.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie (ReadsinTrees) Dacyczyn

    A cute Victorian era story for middle readers. I can see this series appealing to fans of Bunnicula and the Enola Holmes mysteries. I listened to it on audio, and as ever Katherine Kellgren was a treasure.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hafsa Sabira

    As much as I enjoyed the plot and the characters, the length of the movel did not work for me. Apparently a 150 page novel stretched long which became a bit burdensome to read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    3.5 stars. This was super cute and enjoyable. I could easily see myself continuing on in the series. For fans of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place and Jane Eyre.

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