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The Aviary: 02/22/16
I am the type of reader who easily falls into ruts. I might decide to work my way through a particular series, or a favorite author, or a shelf of to be read books I've carefully selected. Combine that organized reading with the off the cuff, impulse reads that I check out from the library (their new book display is always so tempting), and reading I usually end up doing near the end of the year for the Cybils, its easy for other authors to fall through the cracks.
To combat some of that forgetfulness, I'm now trying to read books by authors I enjoyed earlier in my life. Remembering those favorites is actually pretty easy as I can refer to my book diary, a list of books read (with star ratings, no less), that I've kept since the summer of 1987.
Kathleen O'Dell is one of those authors I neglected to revisit until this year. In fact the first book I checked out with my newly acquired library card (having just recently moved) was Ophie Out of Oz. I was curious which Oz Ophie was newly out of. Turns out it was Baum's Oz and not Australia.
The Aviary is historical fiction set in Maine at the end of the nineteenth century. Clara Dooley lives with her mother and an elderly lady, Mrs. Glendover, in the crumbling remains of a once gorgeous mansion. Besides Mrs. Glendover, there is an aviary full of tropical but ornery birds. Clara's been told she has a weak heart and therefore must stay in doors, helping her mother run the house.
Clara is tempted to ignore all warnings when a new family moves next door and a girl about her age does everything she can to make friends. Here is a girl unawares of the local story that haunts the Glendover house (something which Clara, herself is only vaguely aware of save to know that the neighbors don't trust Mrs. Glendover because of it).
With Mrs. Glendover's death, Clara is given the freedom to investigate the truth behind the house and the reason for the creepy aviary. Here is where a very good book becomes as awesome book. It involves magic, mysticism and mystery.