Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall by Ali Standish

When Arthur saves a fainting woman and her baby, he makes the acquaintance of an English gentleman. The man was impressed when Arthur explained how he knew the woman was in imminent danger. Upon his leaving, the stranger told Arthur, "Your powers of observation served you well today. Perhaps even better than you know." With those enigmatic words, Arthur heads home to retell his family all about the adventure.

Life has been anything but easy for Arthur. As an older child, he feels the weight of the family's poverty. Arthur's father was an illustrator but strong drink has diminished his productivity. His mother is a master at making meager portions stretch and infusing hope and encouragement into her children. She is convinced that Arthur is destined for great things. Sohis mother is not at all surprised when a mysterious summons appears inviting Arthur to attend Baskerville Hall (tuition-free).

The original manner in which Arthur is conveyed to school offers a hint at the thrills that await him. He soon makes friends with Irene and Jimmy (if this is all sounding like Harry Potter, the similarities are there--as well as a formidable foe).  Unlike Hogwarts, the "magic" of Baskerville Hall is mostly based on scientific inquiry. (Just a note, there is a bit of mysticism thrown in with a mention of seances but those were not central elements of the story).  As Arthur begins to feel as though he may have a chance to really make something of himself, he finds himself facing possible expulsion. Will the truth come out in time or will Arthur have to face the humiliation of leaving Baskerville Hall? Readers will love the suspense and mystery of this band of three friends. I highly recommend the first in this very entertaining new series for readers in middle grade and look forward to the next installment!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.


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