Friday, September 17, 2010


Wood, Maryrose. The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, book 1)
Miss Penelope Lumley, late of the Swanburne Academy for Poor but Bright Females, sets out for Ashton Place in hopes of obtaining employment as a governess at the fine house. The young Lady Constance hires her quickly, and Penelope soon finds out why-- her charges are feral children whom Lord Ashton found on the estate while hunting. Considering them a novelty that might impress his friends, he orders that they be raised in the house and taught to be polite members of society... in time for the Christmas ball a month away. Despite their prediliction for chasing squirrels and howling when uphappy, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia learn quickly and endear themselves to Penelope, if not the Ashton family. How will they comport themselves at the ball? Will Penelope be able to keep her job? All will be revealed, and more will come in planned sequels.

I have such a soft spot for anything set in England, and harbor a secret desire to be a governess, so I enjoyed this much more than I expected. The illustrations by Jon Klassen are charming, and the formal but amusing tone of this book reminds me of things I read as a child. Will students like it? I think that Lemony Snicket fans could be enticed, and if Lowry's The Willoughbys has been popular in your library, this is a sure bet.

Stevermer, Caroline. Magic Below Stairs.
Frederick Lincoln is a ward of the evil Mr. Makepeace, head of the orphanage. Luckily, Frederick is a fairly skilled boy and is assigned to help the cook, Vardle, in the kitchen. Soon, he is brought to the attention of a wizard who is seeking a footman, and since the livery fits Frederick, he is taken to the grand estate, where he rises through the ranks due to his various skills (sharpening knives, tying cravats, etc.) He is helped many times by the hobgoblin Billy Bly, until the magician, Lord Schofield, removes Billy, fearing that he will cause mischief. When the household goes to another residence to await the birth of Lady Schofield's baby, Billy comes back and identifies a curse on the house, which he and Frederick try to eradicate. The Schofields are grateful for the help, and I assume that there may be a sequel brewing for this title as well.

Fans of Sage's Magyk series, as well as those of Prineas' Lost, will like this title, which gives a pre-Victorian twist to this tale of magic and intrigue.


  1. Snicket is, well, dead at my library. His books check out regularly, but I never get asked for them or for read-alikes. A couple times when I've tried booktalking something and said it's like Snicket's books, I get blank stares. I liked Mysterious Howling, but...nah. I totally bought Magic Below Stairs won't be hugely popular, but we just had to have it...

  2. Oh, I must read both of these! As usual, you are wreaking havoc with my TBR list. In a good way. :)