For fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society comes the fourth book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, the acclaimed and hilarious Victorian mystery series by Maryrose Wood. In The Interrupted Tale, Miss Penelope Lumley receives an invitation to speak at the annual Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition (or CAKE) at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. Optoomuchstic as ever, Penelope hopes to give her CAKE talk, see some old friends, and show off the Incorrigible children to Miss Mortimer, but instead she finds her beloved school in an uproar. And when Penelope is asked by the Swanburne Academy board of trustees to demonstrate the academic progress of her three wolfish students so the board can judge the true worth of a Swanburne education, the future of her alma mater--and of her job as governess to the Incorrigibles--hangs in the balance.
The Interrupted Tale (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #4)Featured
Not only was I more in the mood for The Interrupted Tale, but I also think it’s a better book. The first three novels barely made a dent in the overarching plot, but Wood’s finally getting into it now. The mystery of everyone’s identity (no, really, it’s a thing) is coming to the forefront. Is Judge Quincy really the supposed dead father of Frederick Ashton? What’s Frederick Ashton’s mysterious condition? Why does Penelope have to dye her hair? Whose kids are the Incorrigibles?
Now, don’t get overexcited thinking that Wood will answer all of these, but the plot is at least dealing with all of them and progress is being made. I’m sure she’ll stretch them out over more books than necessary because money, but I’m thrilled that more is happening. Each plot needs to advance the individual book’s story arc AND the larger one for the whole series, and that’s finally really happening. As fun as the individual books are, I’m not particularly engaged by episodic stories that don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The Interrupted Tale has everything that the previous stories had as well. They’re still utterly madcap and humorous. There are still ridiculous moments with animals; in fact, the stars of the book might be the dancing chickens. When I was a kid, I would have been all over the absurdity of this series, and it’s still a lot of fun now. Plus, Katherine Kellgren’s narration is simply excellent. I now know what a good job she does of being a tolling bell or meowing like a cat. I love how she throws her all into a narration project.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Of course, the fact that this series is written for middle graders does show through quite a bit. Wood explains a lot of things for young readers that will be unnecessary for older readers. Also, it takes people a LOT longer to put things together than it does me. These are pretty common drawbacks in reading middle grade as an adult, but not enough to put me off the series entirely.
The Final Verdict:
So, what it comes down to is that I think this is the best in the series thus far. If you were frustrated at the lack of advancement in the larger plot arc, then you will be happy to know that you can safely continue because progress is finally being made.