At some point in our late tweens or early teens, all of us are exposed Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and the like and this book is a perfect gateway into those novels. Those of us who as adults love the literary romance, jabs at historical “society” and the pure adventure will be immediately drawn to this book. The book is focused on the Stephenson family.
Mr. Stephenson, a clergyman, is remarried to his second wife after the passing of his first. The new “Stepmama” is trying to wrangle in the four unruly Stephenson children into respectable society which is proving most difficult. From the start the family name is under poor repute because the children’s mother is known witch, a fact that has soiled the family’s reputation in society since before the children were born. The derelict older brother, Charles, is in danger of going to debtors’ prison for gambling and has put the family’s finances in ruin. So, Stepmama has resolved to groom the three Stephenson sisters to become respectable members of society so that they can marry into wealth and save the family both in reputation and financially. None of the three sisters have been easy to tame, but at the book’s start, the eldest, Elissa, has resolved to accept a proposal from a horrible member of society, Sir Neville, following the example of the tragic Gothic Romance characters that she loves to read about.
Kat, the youngest and most unladylike of the girls will not stand for Elissa’s arranged marriage, and hatches a series of poorly conceived plans to thwart the marriage and save her sister from this horrible fate. Along the way, Kat discovers that her other sister, Angeline, has discovered her mother’s magic books and has been practicing witchcraft which becomes completely obvious when a man the family has never met before walks across England and shows up at the family’s door to pledge his undying devotion to Angeline. As Kat tries to discover more about of her mother’s past and Angeline’s new found magical abilities, Kat learns that she has inherited even more powerful magic from her mother. The family, with the smitten Mr. Carlyle in tow, leave for a weekend country party at a high society estate and hilarious adventure and drama unfold at every turn.
Hysterically funny, action packed and very well written, this would be a perfect pick for 4th-8th graders who are looking for a light, engaging read.
Posted by: Kelly