Must Read Monday (40): Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s The Gallery & Judith Rossell’s Withering-by-Sea

BOOKSTACKSWelcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week: historical middle-grade fiction! First up is The Gallery, the second middle grade novel from Laura Marx Fitzgerald. While I am sad to say I have not yet read Fitzgerald’s well-reviewed debut, Under the Egg, I couldn’t help but add her second novel to my must-read as well. I have such a soft spot for historical fiction/historical mysteries and The Gallery– with its Roaring Twenties setting and stately manor-set mystery- sounds absolutely fantastical! (…And check out that gorgeous cover!). Second up is Judith Rossell’s Withering-by-Sea, a historical children’s title set in the Victorian era. Author and illustrator Judith Rossell has a number of titles to her name, but is a new name to me. Withering-by-Sea title is one of those lucky discoveries I came across during one of my regular Goodreads browse of children’s titles. My eye was drawn to the intriguing-sounding title, then as I read through the description I thought, how perfect! An ‘imaginative and darkly funny Victorian’ read? Count me in.

 

THEGALLERY27065769

The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Expected publication: June 14, 2016 by Dial Books

It’s 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?

Inspired by true events described in a fascinating author’s note, The Gallery is a 1920s caper told with humor and spunk that readers today will love.

 

WITHERINGBYSEA25785678Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell
Publication: March 8, 2016 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 2014)

A stalwart orphan sets out on a spine-tingling adventure in this wildly imaginative and darkly funny Victorian middle grade novel.

High on a cliff above the gloomy Victorian town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp, dull hotel, eleven-year-old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three dreadful aunts. Stella dreams of adventuring on the Amazon or anyplace, really, as long as it isn’t this dreary town where nothing ever happens.

Then one night Stella sees something she shouldn’t have. Soon she finds herself on the run from terrifying Professor Stark and his gang of thugs. But how can one young girl outwit an evil magician, much less rescue his poor, mistreated assistant?

With the help of a mysterious maestro, his musical cats, and a lively girl named Gert, Stella Montgomery sets out to do just that.

 

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