Friends, I’m about to push a new book on you. One of the best books I’ve read in 2011 is The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell. The Aviary is a quiet middle grade novel with a touch of Anne Of Green Gables crossed with The Secret Garden as an influence. It’s historical fantasy with a Gothic feel, a book that DEMANDS you get sucked within it’s pages. Plus, that cover just holds your eye and doesn’t let go with the gorgeous green and the black and the birds, with the old school feel. Clearly, O’Dell was blessed by the cover gods. You guys, buckle your seat belts because you are about to ride the gush roller coaster.
Twelve year old Clara Dooley is a lonely girl. Due to a heart condition Clara has never left the Glendoveer mansion where her mother and another maid named Ruby take care of frail Mrs. Glendoveer, a woman who has lost everything. Her husband is dead. Four of her children were murdered and the family baby went missing, many years ago. Her sole pleasure in life seems to be the birds in the aviary. Clara’s life isn’t too terrible, Mrs. Glendoveer and Ruby are kind to her and she has all the books she could ever want. Yet, Clara desperately wants a friend.
When Clara hears one of the birds squaking ‘Elliotttttt’, she finds herself on the path to unravel an old mystery, clear the Glendoveer name AND make a dear friend along the way in Daphne Aspinol who is new to the neighborhood and refuses to listen to hearsay. You guys, my eyes are like hearts while describing the bare bones plot. You have to understand how much I loved The Aviary.
O’Dell’s writing is like a richly woven tapestry. While I had guessed some things from the beginning, there are different threads I only pulled at. The way the story unravels is beautiful. Kathleen O’Dell deftly combined BIRDS ILY, characters – not a single poor drawn character to be found, plot-hello I read this late into the night, world building -I can picture the historical New England town and it’s suspicious neighbors perfectly, and pacing – there’s never a dull moment and tension runs high.
YOU GUYS. Do you like mysteries? Do you like friendship? Did you want Anne Shirley and Diana to be your best friend or bosom buddy? YOU GUYYYYYS Daphne and Clara have such a wonderful, supportive, healthy, un-vindictive friendship and I just want to hold them up as an example of the type of friends we ALL deserve in life.
The Aviary is fan-fricken-tastic. You do yourself a real disservice by not reading it. The ending had me cheering and smiling hard. Yet, the last of the pages also left me melancholy, in that I had to leave Kathleen O’Dell’s entrancing prose for the next book on my list.
Disclosure: Obtained via the library but you can bet your bottom dollar I WILL purchase a copy of this.
This is a CYBILS book.