The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood
Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, “They must have been raised by wolves.”
The Incorrigible children actually were.
Since returning from London, the three Incorrigible children and their plucky governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, have been exceedingly busy. Despite their wolfish upbringing, the children have taken up bird-watching, with no unfortunate consequences – yet. And a perplexing gift raises hard questions about how Penelope came to be left at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and why her parents never bothered to return for her.
But hers is not the only family mystery to solve. When Lord Fredrick’s long-absent mother arrives with the noted explorer Admiral Faucet, gruesome secrets tumble out of the Ashton family tree. And when the admiral’s prized racing ostrich gets loose in the forest, it will take all the Incorrigibles’ skills to find her.
The hunt for the runaway ostrich is on. But Penelope is worried. Once back in the wild, will the children forget about books and poetry and go back to their howling, wolfish ways? What if they never want to come back to Ashton Place at all?
Review by Laney B:
At first I thought this series of books was a bit strange for my taste–even fiction has to be somewhat believable for me. But, when I realized that it was a satire on Victorian social mores and the class system of the time, I thought it was a clever and humorous way to expose snobbery, callousness, and pretension. The mystery element keeps one guessing as well.
Review by KidsReads:
In THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING, which kicked off Maryrose Wood’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, we met a young governess hired to her first position. Penelope Lumley is shocked to find that her little charges are three siblings who had been raised by wolves. But in the true fashion of a girl educated at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, she does her best to teach, civilize and love them. In THE HIDDEN GALLERY, we learned even more about Penelope and the children (named Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia), but many, if not most, questions about them remained unanswered. The most baffling of all was the nature of Fredrick Ashton, Lord of Ashton Place’s monthly disappearances and identity of the Incorrigible children’s parents, as well as the parents of Penelope Lumley.
Thankfully, Wood has written a third book in the series, THE UNSEEN GUEST, in which readers get closer to solving the mysteries and are able to follow Penelope and the children on yet another serious adventure. Recently back from London, where they narrowly escaped an angry mob of theater pirates, they learn of the imminent arrival of mother Ashton and her intrepid love interest and ostrich entrepreneur, Admiral Faucet. Before the Admiral can settle in at what he hopes to be his new home, he begins to plan the search for his missing ostrich, Bertha. Noting the excellent tracking skills of the Incorrigibles, he enlists them for the forest search, and of course Penelope must accompany them. Eventually the children find their way to a cave full of warm blankets and delicious sandwiches. Penelope realizes it was not just the wolves who kept the children alive all those years. But who could it have been?
Before she has a chance to ponder the question much longer, they are all on the hunt for Bertha again, but this time they are also being pursued by Lord Fredrick’s hunting party. They make it back home safely (with the help of some friendly wolves), but the plot thickens quite a bit when a séance is planned and the ghost of Edward Ashton is asked to make an appearance. For Penelope, each time she gets close to answering a question or solving a mystery, a more mysterious question arises. But, like the plucky and capable Swanburne girl she is, she moves ever forward gathering information, looking for clues, and thinking about possibilities, all the while caring for the mischievous and clever Incorrigibles.
This third book is just as fantastic as the previous two. Fun and quirky with smart word plays and literary references, it is a challenging but compelling read and a puzzling mystery. Though in the beginning THE UNSEEN GUEST is a bit slower and more thoughtful than the first two, Wood perfectly balances the darker and sadder aspects of this story (Penelope misses her parents much more in this installment than in the earlier ones) with a charming playfulness. The chase and action scenes are also perfectly balanced by the more contemplative problem-solving elements of the story. At the very end, Wood gives readers a new set of clues to think about while awaiting #4.
Once again, the text is accompanied by the lovely and evocative illustrations of Jon Klassen, making the book a complete success.