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Reviewed by:
  • The Aviary
  • Deborah Stevenson
O’Dell, Kathleen. The Aviary. Knopf, 2011. [352p]. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-95605-8 $18.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-85605-1 $15.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-98935-3 $15.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–7.

Mrs. Glendoveer’s house has been home to eleven-year-old Clara for years, ever since her mother began to work for the old lady. When Mrs. Glendoveer dies, Clara is deeply saddened by the loss of her confidante, and she’s also alarmed by the prospect of having to leave the place when it’s sold. The quartet of birds long treasured by Mrs. Glendoveer attracts Clara’s attention, and she begins to explore a mystery involving the late Mr. Glendoveer’s career as a magician, the tragic long-ago death of the Glendoveer children, the strange words uttered by the birds, and the enigmatic prospective buyer of the house. With its isolated girl, historical mysteries, and period flavor (the events are set at the end of the nineteenth century), this is old-style domestic fantasy, filled with appealing conventions: the protagonist’s burgeoning friendship with an outgoing new neighbor, the hints at family secrets, and the uncertain but inexorable oncoming threat. There are some inventive additional twists as well, especially in the true identity of the supernaturally touched birds. What will really sell this outing is the accessible style—though occasionally a little talky, the prose has an amiable confidentiality that reduces the keenness of some horrific events and brings both the past and its magic within easy reach of contemporary young readers. Fans of Eva Ibbotson’s work, Jacqueline West’s Books of Elsewhere (The Shadows, BCCB 9/10, etc.), and other fantasies with classic elements and padded corners will enjoy the spooky mystery here.



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