Monday, January 21, 2013

The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell

Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the crumbling Glendoveer mansion, home to a magician's widow, a cage full of exotic birds, and a decades-old mystery. Clara loves old Mrs. Glendoveer, but the birds in the aviary frighten her -- they always seem to screech and squall whenever she's near. And then one day, the mynah bird speaks, and the mystery starts to unravel.
Clara discovers dark secrets about the family, and about her own past. Somehow the birds in the aviary seem to be at the center of it all, and Clara can't shake the feeling that they are trying to tell her something...

~Print copy, 337 pages
Published: 2011 by Yearling

 Clara Dooley has a weak heart, and cannot leave the ancient Glendoveer mansion, where she spends her days reading and taking care of old Mrs. Glendoveer. But when Mrs. Glendoveer dies and the birds begin to speak to her, Clara needs to pry into the secrets surrounding Mrs. Glendoveer. Where are her children, who disappeared nigh on 50 years ago? Why does she keep those birds? How have those birds lived so long?

This book is MG, true, but as my mother tells me: "there are good books for everyone in every genre." (Perhaps not for erotica. But by "genre" she meant MG/YA/Adult, not specifics.)

I felt this book could appeal to if not everyone, then at least plenty of people. There's ghostly activity, a stronger-than-she-seems heroine (did anyone else think Winnie-the-Pooh right there?) and a decent amount of magic.

The characters were all pretty solid. Especially Clara and her best friend, Daphne. (They're not technically allowed to be friends, since Clara's mother wants her in isolation because of her "weak heart", but they're still friends. Read the book.)  They are not deterred from this mystery, even with the somewhat-sinister finding that the children were found dead in the nearby Lockhaven Bay... and the magician's right hand man, a hypnotist by the last name Booth, seems connected.

The mystery itself, while somewhat easy for me to guess at by mid-book, was pretty satisfying. It kept me on my toes, my imagination on alert. The ending, when all was said and done, both chilled and relieved me. I won't say more, for fear of spoilers.

The dialogue was somewhat stilted, of course, this book taking place in the late 1800s/early 1900s. I wasn't particularly fond of it, but I read books for the ideas, not the dialogue.

Overall, I loved this book. It was well worth the read. It wasn't one of my absolute favorites, but still worth the two days it took me to read it. 4 stars!

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