I was sent a copy of The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee as part of the Amazon Vine review programme.
This is an excellent adventure story in the best, old fashioned tradition of adventure stories. It reminded me somewhat of the classic Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, although this book has a lighter, more humorous touch than that.
Clemency is coming back to England from India where she has been born and brought up. Her parents have died, leaving her penniless, and her only instruction was to return to the bosom of her family in England – which she is attempting to follow. The captain of the boat for which she has a ticket, does not want her onboard, until Miss Potchard, a woman who specialises in reuniting people and their families, vouches for her.
Miss Potchard aims to help Clemency find her family in return for financial recompense for her family. Clemency is not sure whether to trust her or not, but doesn’t have much choice.
When they reach England, Miss Potchard leaves Clemency in the hands of her son Gully, and puts a notice in The Times, advising any remaining relatives of Clemency where she is to be found, before she heads off back to her travelling life.
Gully and Clemency strike up a peculiar friendship, and Gully is alarmed one day when he returns to the house to find that Clemency has disappeared rather abruptly with the aptly named Miss Clawe.
Clemency, meanwhile, is finding that her reunion with her family is not to be quite as joyful as she had hoped.
The characters in the book are well drawn and interesting. Clemency in particular is a triumph, as a rather weedy girl with no resources, who blossoms in adversity and becomes the heroine of her own destiny. There is a whole cast of other characters, all brilliantly brought to life and rather Dickensian in their glorious quirks and foibles.
The story zips along at a fair old pace and there are plenty of plot twists and turns that will have you wanting to read on to the next chapter.
This is a wonderful, mad cap adventure story, perfect for readers of about seven and up. It is rather too wordy for a good transition book, and would suit more confident readers who are willing to tackle proper novels and work through a solid text. It is aimed at girl readers, but if you could get a boy reader past the cover and the first few chapters you may well find they enjoy it as much, as it has all kinds of intricate plot twists and lovely action passages that make it a very satisfying read.