I am a big fan of the third person omniscient narrator, the sort that floats around, above, and within telling everything that is going on, sometimes even commenting directly to the reader. That said, I’m very picky — many recent attempts haven’t worked for me, the narrators were just too snarky, overbearing, derivative, or forced. Happily that is not the case with the narrator of Maryrose Wood‘s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series of which the most recent The Unseen Guest has just been published.
I like Wood’s narrator, she or he is kind, gentle, charmingly didactic, and seems to know quite a bit about our heroine, the plucky sixteen-year-old Miss Penelope Lumley. For those unfamiliar with the series, Miss Lumley came to Ashton Place from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females to oversee the education of three children who were discovered in the woods and presumed to have been raised by wolves. Penelope, with a mysterious background of her own, takes on her role with great devotion and seriousness. The narrator brings all sorts of curiosities to us in an opinionated but not snarky or harsh way; she/he appears to care about Penelope and her charges and wants as we readers do — to get to the bottom of their histories.
In this third book in the series, like the others delightfully illustrated by the excellent Jon Klassen, we learn a tad more about the three children’s life in the woods and some of those who cared for them there. New characters, some of whom may or may not be villains, are introduced and old characters return and become more perplexing as to their relationship to the children and their governess. For those who enjoy witty mysteries, plays on Victorian mores, and unpredictable oddities, I recommend this series highly.