Wednesday, October 26, 2011


by Kathleen O'Dell
Knopf Books for Young Readers
352 pp.
Ages 9-12


Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she's confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it's a comfortable life, and if it weren't for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too.

But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too. Kathleen O'Dell deftly weaves magic, secret identities, evil villians, unlikely heroes, and the wonder of friendship into a mystery adventure with all the charm of an old fashioned classic.


I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, but I received an advanced reader copy and so thought I'd give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. The Aviary is a suspenseful tale about five children who were kidnapped decades earlier. Clara Dooley and her friend Daphne set out to solve the mystery on their own. The story is full of magic and ghosts and wonderful characters. Ms. O'Dell does a marvelous job with the historical feel of the story. It is beautifully written. I can recommend The Aviary to anyone with complete confidence. As it turns out, Ms. O'Dell has published several other books before this one - I'm going to have to pick them up, too!

Rating:      4 out of 5 stars
Profanity:   None
Sex:         None
Violence:    Mild


  1. I've seen this title floating around. Now I really really want to read it. Thanks for the rec.

  2. Thanks for the review, Laurisa! When I saw that you rate for violence, it reminded me of how I struggled with the decision to include a gun-toting character in THE AVIARY. I even discussed my discomfort with my editor. But in the end, I decided I needed that level of threat for the scene. If I'm going to write "scary," I'd much rather employ ghosts than firearms--especially for middle graders.
    All the best,

  3. I'm reading this right now!! It's very gripping indeed, and yes, wants me to find Kathy's other books too. Thanks for the review.

  4. A great book, Kathleen! AVIARY is a compelling mystery with lovely spiritual overtones.
    Nora Gaffin Shore

  5. Cool, I'll have to check out this book.

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