I don’t think I’ve ever consumed an entire series as quickly as I did this one: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. (The Chronicles of Narnia are a very close second, because I inhaled those as well, though in light of a recent rereading, I would have to put the Incorrigibles at the top.*) To be perfectly honest, I only learned of it and picked it up because they’re illustrated by none other than Jon Klassen, but I’m so glad I did!
The series is a delightfully written mystery that will keep you making connections between all the little details Wood drops left and right at every turn, whether it be the mysterious howling on Ashton grounds or the oddly coincidental wolf theme popping up at the bequest of a certain…. A.? Wood keeps you guessing with every book at how things are connected: was it really just a chance ad in the papers that got Penelope Lumley working for the Ashtons? Were the Incorrigibles actually raised by wolves? And what’s with Old Timothy? Just whence does Penelope Lumley’s seemingly infinite pluck come?
I won’t go too much into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but Wood definitely keeps you on your toes and grabbing for the next installment. I personally quite enjoyed the asides, along with the fast pace and wit, but where I think Wood really excels is where this series has something to appeal to a variety of age groups. (The last book in the series, The Long-Lost Home, is set for release next June, and we’ve placed it on order, so beat the lines and put yourself on the waiting list now!)
*I recently re-read some of the Chronicles of Narnia titles and found them a lot more lackluster than when I first read them. I’m not sure if this is because I had enjoyed them in my youth to begin with and was much more willing to simply go along with the story and accept it, or if it’s because I see now how convenient everything is.
Here’s the full list of the series of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place:
- The Mysterious Howling
- The Hidden Gallery, available in hardcover and paperback formats
- The Unseen Guest, available in hardcover and paperback formats
- The Interrupted Tale, available in print and audiobook formats
- The Unmapped Sea, available in print and audiobook formats
- The Long-Lost Home (to be released in 2018)
And if you like the Incorrigibles, you might also be interested in reading about the miserable trio that form the backbone of The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (who, by the way, writes under his actual name when he writes for older target audiences: Daniel Handler), which can be found in English and French in a variety of formats.
Alternatively, if you’ve already made your way through both the Incorrigibles and the Unfortunate trio, you still have quite a number of read-a-like options available to you, of which the Mysterious Benedict Society, filled with puzzles and detective work done by children sent as undercover agents to a rather peculiar boarding school, and the Wildwood series, which would also be a wonderful read-a-like to the Chronicles of Narnia as it features a magical other universe with talking animals and a war in which both sides appear just as unfortunate a choice to cheer for as the other, are just a couple. Another series would be the Sisters Grimm, which features a duo of orphaned sisters that end up in their grandmother’s care as they attempt to solve the mysteries of the small, cursed town in which they find themselves.
What are some series that you loved as a child? Do they still instill in you a sense of wonder?