The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
by Claire Legrand
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. An atmospheric, heartfelt, and delightfully spooky novel for fans of Coraline, Splendors and Glooms, andThe Mysterious Benedict Society.
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster ;lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria; even if it means getting a little messy. (goodreads.com)
To be honest, I wasn’t really going to write about this one because I don’t think I liked it much. With the way things are for me right now, I don’t feel like blogging about each and every book I read anymore. Also, I just don’t have the time to do that. And I’m not reading nearly as much as I normally do. But I was looking for something “creative” to do today that wasn’t just sitting here and surfing the internet. I’m trying to slowly back away from social media and it’s been working somewhat. Mostly due to the fact that my husband and I just watched about 2.5 seasons of Buffy in about 4 days. And I might have to go back to work next week. So, you know, time will be less.
Anyhow, things I did like about this particular middle grade mystery were: the writing, the story telling and the extreme creepiness of the plot. Bugs. Yuck. Puppets. Yuck.bThings I didn’t like about this book: Victoria. I disliked her almost instantly and she didn’t grow on me at all. I find it very difficult to read a story when I have zero connection with the protagonist. But I was determined to read this story all the way through because I had been wanting to read it for ages. And I bought it. So I was going to read the blasted thing.
I also didn’t really like how creepy it was. But that’s more of a me thing. Then again, I don’t think I’d give this book to my niece to read because it’s dark and gloomy and there’s creepy death. It’s an odd sort of middle grade book. It’s one of those “smart” type books as I call them. It’s not simple in its writing or plot and it is very well written. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. I believe that’s mostly due to my dislike of Victoria. I don’t actually feel that she was trying to find Lawrence because she was his friend, I feel like she was trying to find him because it was wrong for her to not have him around anymore to boss around and pick on. I didn’t feel as though this friendship was real – or healthy.
But you know something, the entire story felt exactly the shade of brown as on the cover. It’s a dark story, but it’s a cardboard, dirt sort of dark. Like everything was beige, brown and black in the story. The clothes. The people. The houses. The atmosphere. I didn’t sense any colours other than those. All dull, dirty colours and that makes me anxious.
I think this is a pretty good “spooky story” to read in October and around Halloween if you have kids who can handle these sorts of things. But there’s no whimsy in the spooky. It’s not quite the same as Harry Potter creepy/spooky. It’s not quite the same as other middle grade books that also have death. This one was different and I can’t put my finger on why I am feeling this way. The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t like the characters so I wasn’t as “in” the story as I normally am so I was more focused on what was happening around them than TO them and how they should be reacting?
I do like stories about houses that are alive though. Creepy or not. I like houses that change in books. I don’t want one of my own, but I like when other, fictional people have them.