This blog is on “The Aviary” by Kathleen O’Dell.
I admit, when I picked up this book I was expecting a very cliche plot, which is my absolute pet peeve. But once I started reading it, I was swept up by the vividness of the writing. Although a rather simple plot, the story was exciting and sweet.
Clara, an eleven-year-old girl, lives with her mother in an old mansion that hasn’t been opened in years. Once the home of the famous magician George Glendoveer, it now is rather empty with only the elderly Mrs. Glendoveer, the maid, and Clara and her mother living there. Told she has a weak heart, Clara has never been allowed outside the mansion’s fence, and is itching for more freedom. One day Mrs. Glendoveer grows sick and dies. That’s when things begin to happen. Clara, when looking out a previously boarded up window one day, sees a girl running to school and waves at her. The wave she gets in return is the beginning of a secret friendship. There are also the five old birds that Clara was frightened of but Mrs. Glendoveer cared so much about. One day one speaks – “Elliot,” they say. Supposedly that was the baby of the Glendoveer family who was kidnapped but, unlike the other five Glendoveer children, survived (but it is unknown where he is now).
Meanwhile, she and her new friend, Daphne, meet in secret more and more often and Clara becomes more rebellious. She takes her mother’s keys and explores the mansion, stumbling upon a room that has not been touched in perhaps fifty years. And when the smallest of the birds is injured and Clara takes it inside to care for it, she finally begins to get some answers that she so desperately wants.
With the help of Daphne, Clara secretly delves deeper into the Glendoveer mystery, running into real spirits, unpleasant adults, and familial love on the way. I can’t tell you anything past that because it would give the biggest secret away! If it sounds good at all, try it. It was better than I thought – the more I read this book, the better it became. I kept thinking this was set in England or something, but it is actually set in Maine, which threw me off for a while, but didn’t affect the plot at all. It may not be the most thrilling, but it certainly is charming.