Edited by Lupe Fernandez
The Pen and Ink Blog has always been a fan of homegirl, Kathleen O’Dell, she of the popular Agnes Parker series. So, in the interest of fairness, this blogger will be up front and simply say you must read everything Kathleen O’Dell has written. There, now that we’ve shared something, I feel so much closer to you, dear reader. To help you with your new mandate, Ms. O’Dell has given us The Aviary. It is everything this blogger looks for in a novel as well as her stock portfolio: believable characters, beautiful use of language, a brisk pace and a freakin’ good story with enough twists and turns to put the Ikea floor plan to shame.
Kathleen O’Dell’s sixth book, The Aviary, is a middle grade mystery set in a nineteenth century coastal town. Clara Dooley and her mother (the property caretaker) live in the old Glendoveer mansion with the bedridden owner, Mrs. Glendoveer, the housekeeper, Ruby and a large cage of five shrieking birds in the backyard. Clara’s been homeschooled her whole life due to an indeterminate heart condition. Her mother equivocates on all of Clara’s questions regarding her father’s disappearance and the kidnapping and subsequent drowning of the Glendoveer children. Although the loving Mrs. Glendoveer treats Clara like her own, it is life in a gilded cage for the young girl. Until the day Clara meets her new BFF, Daphne. Daphne’s questions about the town rumor that the Glendoveers may have been responsible for the demise of their children makes Clara realize she needs to clear the Glendoveer name and bring the responsible villain to justice. As Clara and Daphne turn up more pieces to the puzzle, it becomes apparent that the frightening birds in the aviary are part of the mystery too. Clara teaches the birds to talk and discovers their true identity.
The Aviary is the rare (cough) bird that both adults and their middle grade readers will share for their school reading or just for the enjoyment of it.
For more on Kathleen O’Dell