Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell



Age Range: 8 and up
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375852263
ISBN-13: 978-0375852268 {Amazon}
Source: Library


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. {Goodreads}

I saw this on a recent trip the library with the kiddos.  It was on the award shelf {to see all nominees for the 2013/4 SC Children’s Book Award, click HERE}, and the spine caught my attention.  It looked kinda gothic, and a little on the dark side.  The description peaked my interest. 

So I checked it out.  Then had to renew it, because it took me a little while to get through it.  So, I took it to the beach with me, which I felt would force me to be conducive to finishing it.

Since I read more than 75% of this while on my anniversary trip (10 years! what what!), I found myself easily distracted by other things, like cable (which we don’t have at home) and the beach, and food—just about anything other than reading this book.

It’s not that there wasn’t a good story here, O’Dell just took a long time to tell it.  And that’s where my major beef with The Aviary lies—it was simply not entertaining enough.  I didn’t really care what was happening most of the time, and when I did, it was a fleeting concern.  I think that O’Dell could have cut approximately half of book and had a much more enticing story.  She squandered this opportunity and drowned the story in too many words.

I like that publishers are using new and different techniques when printing books.  Like, using fonts that represent the typeface of a letter written by hand.  However, there were scripts used  that were difficult for me to read, so I know my 8 year old would find it nearly impossible to read.

Should it have been nominated?  That’s not up for me to decide—I’m not an expert there.  What is up for me to decide is if I would recommend it.  And the answer to that: No.

1 Moon



  1. That cover is really cute <3 It sucks that it turned out like that :(

    Great review <3

    1. Celine--it is really unfortunate. Thanks for stopping by!


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