My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Tabitha receives a mysterious invitation to visit the reclusive Countess of Windermere, Tabitha leaves her life of isolation behind, and hopes to find new friends among the other five children who have also been summoned. Since her only friend is her pet mouse, Pemberley, Tabitha has difficulty at first keeping up a conversation with other children, but learns to relax and trust her companions as they begin to unravel the mystery of the Countess and her intentions.
Drawing on her literary experiences reading mystery novels, Tabitha leads the children’s investigation into the rumors of ghosts at Windermere, the ailing maid who has suffered a stroke, and the odd Countess herself who has many secrets. When things don’t add up, Tabitha is the one who discovers the truth that will change all their lives forever.
An exciting plot, wonderful writing style, and a whole cast of interesting characters! I love the humor and little aside comments in the writing. So funny!
Tabitha is an adorable character! She’s so lonely and starved for love. How sweet to see her making friends and finding that people like her and care about her. She has a keen mind, and is always quoting advice from mystery novels to herself to guide her through the mazes of social interaction or the mysteries of Windermere. She clings to her mystery novels as a way to make sense of the world.
I was interested to meet each of the other children, and see their varied personalities. Some are decidedly spoiled, bad eggs. Others are somewhat good, but not always exactly nice or polite. And some are nice, but misunderstood. Getting to know each character was half the fun of this book!
The plot had a little bit of a Willie Wonka feel at the beginning, since a group of children are exclusively invited to a mansion full of mystery and riches, but the story quickly became its own thing. This story stands on its own! The plot had me wondering a little bit, and while the plot twists weren’t exactly surprising, I enjoyed seeing how the story arrived there.
I was especially impressed at how Tabitha dealt with her feelings about her emotionally abusive parents. An important lesson presented in a healthy way. And still full of fun, and some wonderful insight on the meaning of friendship and family!
I can’t wait to read more from this author!