Friday, 22 June 2012

Review: The Unseen Guest

Title: The Unseen Guest (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place)
Author: Maryrose Wood
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 21st, 2012
Genre: Junior Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

After their misadventures in London, the Incorrigible children of Ashton Place are trying to go about their life as normally as possible. This is more difficult than it would seem, for the Incorrigible’s are not ordinary children. Found living in the woods by Lord Ashton, their governess Penelope Lumley has done her very best to turn her peculiar charges into well-bred children. Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia have proven to be gifted students, and their latest academic endeavor is bird watching. Things become much more interesting than watching sparrows and finches when as ostrich appears at Ashton Place. Lord Ashton’s mother has brought her friend and explorer, who looks to the Incorrigibles for help in locating his lost ostrich. Together, the children, Penelope, and the explorer venture into the vast forest. In the classroom, Penelope is at her element and has many things to teach her eager pupils. However, in the forest Penelope is in the Incorrigibles’ world and finds herself clueless when it comes to the great outdoors. Although Penelope knows little about forests, she is quite sure that sandwiches and comforters are not usually left in caves. Someone has been looking after the Incorrigible children, but who? As Penelope delves deeper into the many mysteries of Ashton Place, she begins to wonder if the children are really better off in Ashton Place, when they clearly belong in the forest.

This is the third book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, which follows three wolf like children and their governess in Victorian England. Mysteries are abundant at Ashton Place, and the plucky young governess, Penelope, does her best to string everything together. The Ashton’s are self-involved and rather silly, neglecting their wards. The Incorrigible children are charming and very clever, and in this book we get to see them at their element and learn more about the dangers they are in, due to their peculiarity. A lot of what I’ve said in the previous two reviews is still the same for this book. I love the writing style, the wit and the humour presented in this book. While the writer utilizes the Snicket style of writing and explains words and phrases, at the same time it never feels like she is talking down to the reader. The plot is fairly simple, but there is enough excitement to keep to reader interested, from ostrich chasing to séances. Towards the end, I was worried The Unseen Guest would hit the third book slump, and that things would become too farfetched or ridiculous. While there were a few moments when this came close to happening, the series is still going strong. Delightful and original, the third book does true to the other books in the series. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place combines magic and fantasy with a story about a Victorian governess. While books in a series can sometimes disappoint, The Unseen Guest still has the charm that drew me to this series.

4.5/5

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