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A Reader of Fictions: January 2014

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, January 24, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Mysterious Howling

The Mysterious Howling
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1

Author: Maryrose Wood
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Duration: 5 hrs, 28 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Read: July 9-11, 2013
Source: Audiobooksync

Description from Goodreads:
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?

Listening to The Mysterious Howling has further gotten me thinking on the subject of what makes a book marketable for a particular age group. The Mysterious Howling has a pretty sophisticated writing style and the heroine and villain (of sorts) are both teenagers. Yet it's marketed as a middle grade. With this, I give up. Books are books and we should read them if we want to, no matter who they're supposedly for. Who's with me?

Why Did I Read This Book?
Two reasons. First, April of Good Books and Good Wine talks to me about audiobooks pretty often, and Katherine Kellgren is her favorite narrator, so, of course, I wanted to listen to a Kellgren book. However, most of them have been books that I already own in print or that just aren't my thing. Then this one showed up on Audiobooksync and I was like BOOYAH. Plus, I don't have any more review audios, and it was there all ready to go.

What's the Story Here?
Fifteen-year-old Penelope Lumley has graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females with a wonderful education and is ready to make her way in the world. She obtains her first position, caring for three children, who turn out to have been raised by wolves. Thankfully, Penelope has enough affection for and understanding of the ways of non-human animals, as well as enough whimsy, to be able to handle these strange, howling children. Basically, it's like Mary Poppins if Mary were just barely a teenager and assigned to Mowgli.

How are the Characters?
The characters of The Mysterious Howling are interesting, but they're a bit more like a tableaux of people than a full play. Most of them are pretty one note, particularly Lady Constance, who is a spoiled brat and seems younger than Penelope, though she's not. Little consideration is given to motivations or anything like that, which really fleshes out character's personalities. Still, Penelope was entertaining, especially since she has no clue how odd she really is. The children are perhaps most interesting, but they're really not the focus of this first book and more of a plot point.

Am I Going to Continue with the Series?
Certainly. Though it wasn't a hundred percent love for me, it did keep me entertained, and I do love me some short audiobooks. I'm hoping that the plot of the next one gets a bit more substantial, since not much really happened in here. I'm presuming that the reader will learn more about where the children came from as they get skilled enough in language to explain what they can remember, which could be quite interesting.

How was the Narration?
Kathereine Kellgren does a really good job, as April promised. She has a sort of high class British accent (to my ears anyway, though I admit to not being an expert with British accents, though I would totally take that class), but is also completely willing to do, and perhaps delights in doing, all the voices and sound effects. I mean, the fact that she can deliver the children's lines (most of which involve howling or barking) without laughing (yes, it's edited and all but still) is impressive. She really goes for it. NGL, the howling and stuff was pretty annoying sounding, but it was also just right for the story, so I had a love/hate relationship with that.

Sum It Up with a GIF:

Rating: 3/5

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