1872. At Miss Strickland’s school for Girls of an Enquiring Mind, Penny Pickering is often in trouble. It’s not that she doesn’t have an enquiring mind, in fact it is quite the opposite. Penny has a mind that is enquiring for all of the wrong reasons; daydreaming and sketching in her notebook are much more appealing than learning about scientific elements.
When Penny’s authoress aunt unexpectedly arrives at the school and offers her the chance of adventure, Penny doesn’t have to think twice. Soon she is heading to Hampshire to investigate strange goings-on at Mr Toddington’s Museum of the Curious and Absurd where bewitched kittens come alive for a midnight tea party. But not all is as it seems and Penny is determined to uncover the truth…
A whimsical adventure with just the right amount of creepy, this first in a new series is a delightful little historical mystery with a lead character who is brave and resourceful. Penny may have a wonderful imagination but she is canny and clued-up enough to realise that stuffed kittens definitely do not magically come alive and with the words of her teacher ringing in her ears, ‘Logic, Penny! We must use logic! Logic and reasoning will show us the way!’ she is determined to uncover the truth and soon finds herself in a race against a time to save the kittens and put a stop to some very bad people who are up to no good. With the help of a new friend, Penny gets involved in all sorts of daring-doings - secretive meetings, spying, looking closer to uncover the truth, snooping in the middle of the night - and it is all jolly good fun.
With an intriguing and eccentric cast of characters and short and accessible chapters, readers of all things mysterious will love this. It is splendid stuff with a real sense of time and place that includes some delightful nods to Victorian times and all of its quirkiness and period charm. Bronte Rose Marando’s black and white illustrations bring alive time and place and help to immerse the reader into Victorian Britain. With an ending that sets up perfectly for the next Penny Dreadful mystery, I cannot wait for the next adventure.
With huge thanks to Walker for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 7+.