Miss Penelope Lumley, a recent graduate from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females is in for a shock when she takes her first job as a governess at Ashton Place. The three children she finds there were actually raised by wolves (Lord Ashton found them on a hunting trip) and are more animalistic than human nature. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is made of stern stuff and takes teaching her new charges in stride. She begins to teach them poetry, proper table manners, not to howl at the moon and not to chase squirrels. As time at Ashton Manor continues, mysteries start to pop up. Why is Timothy, the coachman, following the children and Penelope around? and Just how did the children come to live in the forest? And most importantly, what actually is the schottische?
Review: The Mysterious Howling is hilarious middle-grade reader. It was so much fun to listen to (the narrator had a wonderful English accent, think the Dowager from Downton Abbey). I laughed out loud more times than I can count. Take Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, combine it with Lemony Snicket’s style and add some of The Jungle Book and you get The Mysterious Howling.
There is a narrator to the story that is not the Penelope but the narrator can only see from Penelope’s point of view, but the narrator has the advantage of knowing what the present is like. There are times when the narrator will compare what Penelope is going to do with what it is like in today’s times. The narrator speaks to the reader like he or she is a friend, which creates a fun, engaging mood from the very beginning. Penelope continues that mood by being a down to earth character with enough outrageousness and wild imagination to keep the reader entertained throughout the entire book.
My favorite part of the novel would have to be Miss Agatha Swanburne’s sayings that Penelope arms herself with whenever she is faced with a particularly difficult problem or a situation that she doesn’t find exactly to her liking. I’ll share with you my favorite one because I’ve always felt the same way when I’m at the doctor’s office and forgot my book.
“[A]s Agatha Swanburne once said, ‘To be kept waiting is unfortunate, but to be kept waiting with nothing interesting to read is a tragedy of Greek proportions.”
With witty sayings like this peppered throughout the novel, how can you resist reading this book? This would be a wonderful book to recommend to readers of Lemony Snicket. It’s the first in a series of 6. Only the first three are out right now. The fourth book is coming out in December 2013. I haven’t yet got to read the next two, but I am looking forward to it immensely!