I saw this book circulate a lot at the first library I worked at, which is part of the reason I was interested in it. I also thought the cover was really cool and the full title The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling was really interesting. I think books marketed toward children are often overlooked but they can contain such fun plots, characters, and themes that make them really fun and enjoyable!
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?
I listened to this in audiobook format during my commute to and from work, something I’ve been doing more frequently again. I generally liked the narrator but some of the voices were a bit much at 5:30 in the morning. Specifically, when the children started howling or it was Lady Constance’s dialogue, which leaned toward the shrill side. Despite this I think the narrator did a great job of acting out all the different characters and making it an engaging narration.
It was really fun to see how the children and their governess got along. Between conditioning them to not react around squirrels, teaching them English, and getting them out of some sticky situations, there’s enough humor to go around. I like the bond that had formed between all three of them and some of the scenes were really endearing.
The plot doesn’t really pick up much until the last couple of chapters so, despite my interest in the children’s stories and the animated narration, I was bored through much of the beginning. Once the party occurs we do see the plot pick up, but it was pretty late in the book for me to really be all that interested. The book does end with a cliffhanger but I don’t see myself picking up book two anytime soon.
All in all I’m glad I checked this audiobook out. I’ve been curious about this book for many years so it’s nice to cross that off my tbr. It was short enough that it just took a few days to listen to and I wasn’t struggling to get it back to the library by its due date. The narrator was a lot of fun and brought a lot of life to the story. Though the premise of the book was interesting it ultimately didn’t fully grab my attention until the end of the book. I think I really would have enjoyed The Mysterious Howling at a younger age, so if you have kids this might be a really fun audiobook to check out and listen to with them!
Have you read this book? What are some of your favorite children’s books?