Wednesday, February 17, 2016

REVIEW | Middle-Grade Mystery | The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood

The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Mystery
Series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #5
Awards: NA
Format: Audio (from Library)
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren

WHY?:  I discovered this series in 2015 and absolutely adore it, especially the audio.  Probably my favorite middle-grade find of recent times.

SYNOPSIS: In this installment, Penelope Lumley and her three charges, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible, travel to Brighton along with all the other denizens of Ashton Place. While in Brighton, Penelope hopes to convince Simon's Uncle Pudge, former cabin boy to Admiral Ashton, to reveal the exact wording of the curse placed on the Ashton family.  Along the way, the Incorrigible's learn about hermit crabs and dinosaurs and become fast friends with the children of a Russian family who are the only other folks vacationing in Brighton in January.

This series just keeps getting better and better.  Book 4, The Interrupted Tale was my favorite and The Unmapped Sea surpassed it.  This is the second to last book in the series so many of the mysteries about the origin of the Incorrigible children and the enigmatic Judge Quinsy, come to a head and many secrets are revealed.  However, all that has been accomplished by uncovering the mystery is being able to define exactly what the problem is and it is not resolved. The books ends with all of our beloved characters in some form of peril. Another of my favorite developments of the book is that Penelope finally embraces her romantic feelings for Simon Harley-Dickinson, her loyal friend of the last 4 books. It set things up for book 6 to be a very exciting conclusion!

All the books in the series are very cleverly written from a third person omniscient narrator with a modern sensibility who not only reveals the character's motivations but also comments rather humorously and educationally on the customs of the Victorian era.  It highly entertains me and seems like it would make a great entry point for the intended audience of 8-12 year olds.
“Hard-hearted people may be no fun to sit next to at parties, but they are just as entitled to earn a living as the rest of us. Fortunately-for them, at least-the need for insurance adjusters, tax collectors, theater critics, and the like continues to this very day.” 
One of my only complaints about listening to the book rather than reading it, is that there are so many great and funny passages and plays on words that I don't get a chance to capture on the audio.  I especially love all of Agatha Swanburne's sayings (the founder of Penelope's school) which range from the silly to the profoundly wise and are often a bit of both.

The whole tone of the series is silly and delightful and Katherine Kellgren, the narrator of the audiobooks captures this perfectly!  She once again is amazing in her reading of this book where she has to voice 10 year old Russian twin boys, an ancient mariner and also howl with enthusiasm.  Her range is amazing and she completely commits to all the goofiness.  If you want to read this series, I highly recommend the audio!

FINAL VERDICT:  This series just keeps getting better! This installment is extremely satisfying because it provides so many answers to the nagging questions of the series but ends in such a way that promises book 6 will be exciting. My favorite words to describe this series?  Charming and Delightful. 4 out of 5 stars.

Other Opinions Are Available: Leaf's Reviews | Good Books and Good Wine

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