Snicket + Bronte + Meyer =
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, a new series by Maryrose Wood. At the end of Book I, The Mysterious Howling, the reader is left with a myriad of questions and hanging on the proverbial cliff. So what's the story?? Basically this: Fifteen-year-old Miss Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is hired as governess to three young children (Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia) who appear to have been raised by wolves in the forests of Ashton Place. But Penelope is sage, intrepid and a bit of a miracle worker. Within a few months she has these 'wild children' civilized enough to eat cooked meat, albeit rare and with gobs of ketchup, listen to music, and compose poetry, although they still are wont to give chase to squirrels. How did Lord Frederick, an avid huntsman, just happen to find them on his estate that is "tens of thousands" of acres large? Why does he insist on keeping them along with the rest of his wildlife trophies instead of sending them to an orphanage, especially when his very young, and somewhat ditsy, new wife, Lady Constance, has no desire to have anything to do with them? Why is the coachman always lurking around? The children insist someone/something is behind an attic wall, but no one believes them, yet. Why is Lord Frederick always mysteriously disappearing? Why are Penelope's and Cassiopeia's hair the exact same strange color and texture? Why would Penelope's esteemed mentor reveal nothing to her about her origins or how she came to be at Swanburne Academy? All this intrigue and adventure is presented in a most humorous tone, somewhat like A Series of Unfortunate Events, but not as sardonic. With mysterious howlings coming from the children until they are 'tamed' and from behind an attic wall at times, one hears an echo of a Bronte composition. Finally, there is Lord Frederick's unexplained absence during an extravagent Christmas party at Ashton Place, when it just so happens there is a full moon. When he appears he is disoriented and rumpled. This reader, at least, was left with a Meyerish whiff of werewolves. What more could a series opener ask for? Let's hope the next installment is not long in the making!