Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review of The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell

by Kris Kahrs
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. 

Ms. O’Dell is a master of handling complex subject matter in a simple fashion without patronizing the reader. Although this feat appears easy enough, it can make an author apply to dental school. She adroitly handles the period setting of the story by not dwelling on historical detail, but generally addressing the differences in broad language in order to move on and get the story told, all of which, the middle grader reader will appreciate. 

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 


  1. Hey, guys, thank you for this extraordinarily kind review. It really gave me a lift!

    Bless your Ink-filled hearts...

  2. It's nothing really.
    It's all in a days' work for THE PEN & INK BLOGSPOT.

    up...up...and AWAY!

    The Management

  3. I am reading this right now! A wonderful book. I love the early 20th century language. Kathleen captures this era so well. And the characters are so engaging. Great job Kathleen!

  4. Thanks for stopping by Laurisa and checking out the review. Wasn't the book great? Laurisa, no slouch herself, has a new book coming out in May 2012, called The Rock of Ivanore. Looks like an exciting medieval fantasy adventure! Hope we can score an ARC!

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