Lord Fredrick Ashton may not feel ready to be a father, but with a bouncing baby Ashton on the way, he’s sure about one thing: The wolfish curse on his family must end soon, before the child is born, “or a Barking Baby Ashton is what we’ll get,” he warns the household’s governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, who willingly takes on the challenge. When Lady Constance’s doctor prescribes a wintry seaside holiday to strengthen her constitution, Penelope jumps at the chance to take the three Incorrigible children to Brighton. Once there, she hopes to persuade the old sailor Pudge to reveal what he knows about the Ashton curse.
But the Ashtons are not the only ones at the beach in January. The passionately temperamental Babushkinov family is also taking the winter waters. The Incorrigible children may have been raised by wolves, but the Babushkinov children are the wildest creatures they’ve ever seen. Is it more than mere coincidence that these untamed children have turned up in Brighton just as Penelope and the Incorrigibles arrive?
As we get ready to devour the final installment of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book, The Long-Lost Home, I wanted to go over a couple of the books in the series, so we could all get even more excited to go pick up our copies! Today, we’ll take a look at the fifth installment–The Unmapped Sea. This book is where the mystery and excitement of the series really starts to pick up, leading into the series conclusion. Up until the fifth book, every novel seemed to be semi-independent; now, we start to see how all of the mysteries connect and result in one big reveal (that will be an exciting part of The Long-Lost Home). Let me tell you, I have some pretty solid theories, but, alas, spoilers, so I will keep them to myself.
In my early childhood years, I developed a very serious fascination with Russian culture and folklore (which I can thank Leigh Bardugo for continuing into my adulthood). Thus, I had a rather biased fascination with the Babushkinovs. Not only were they really wonderfully wild, vivid, entertaining characters, but they added some wonderful dynamics into the story. The clashing of cultures and upbringings was brilliant–especially when the rather wild Babushkinovs interacted with the very reserved (ahemBritishahem) Incorrigibles. Their friendship did not seem an obvious one at the beginning of the novel, but it was wonderfully cherished by both the characters and the readers by the conclusion of the story.
I am also a fan of the way the story uses very real British history and settings in the plot. Brighton, the ever famous British beach paradise, is a central location for the lot, allowing some more realism to the story that was already wonderfully immersive. Every Anglophile will find some enjoyment in the allusions and references spread throughout the text.
Now, those of you who have read my other reviews of this series are probably going to tire of hearing this, but alas, it is always worthy of mention. My favorite part of this series is the storytelling–it resembles that feeling that one has when they come home to a warm cup of tea after a long day of adventuring. It is both comforting and inspiring, as plucky Penelope and the Incorrigibles find adventure in their seemingly normal everyday lives. There are messages of acceptance, family, and going out of your comfort zone. I truly believe this is one of the most brilliant modern Middle School series, and just about everyone could learn something from reading it.
5 out of 5.