There's something to be said for "more of the same". It can be a negative phrase, but I prefer to use it in a positive light. When I eat a delicious meal, I might ask for more of the same. And when I read a good book, it's almost a knee-jerk reaction to request more of the same. When I first read the first book in Maryrose Wood's series The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, titled The Mysterious Howling, I was entranced. I adored the Snickety (I do believe "Snickety" should be a proper adjective) language, and the memorable characters, even if the "mystery" isn't all that mysterious. And so it was with pleasure that I picked up the second volume, The Hidden Gallery, and was delighted to find more of the same.
In The Hidden Gallery, plucky young governess Penelope Lumley finds herself, with her three charges, swept along to London for the season, leaving Ashton Place behind. With the help of her "Hixby's Guide to London", Penelope plans to have many educational outings for Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia, but things do not always go as she plans. Along the way, she meets a new friend, the children receive a chilling prediction, the subject of mail is discussed at length and a West End debut ends in a thrilling chase scene.
The Hidden Gallery is definitely "more of the same", but I'm happy to report it is more than that besides. There's more character development, more exciting set pieces, and though it offers no more answers than the first book, it has a satisfying conclusion, one that leaves you both content and ready for more. There are new elements to the series' main mystery, and they are very welcome, because they add a layer of depth that the first book lacked. Like its predecessor, The Hidden Gallery is a lot of fun. I already have several patrons in line waiting for it, but I know I'll also be recommending this series like crazy this summer.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood
2011, Balzer + Bray