I recently finished reading the fifth book in the Mysterious Devices saga, The Judge Wore Lamp Black, which also happens to be Book twenty-one (!!) in the Magnificent Devices universe. I was already feeling impatient for the next installment in that mystery series to release, when I realized that I had set aside a little stash of adventures for a rainy day—four novellas set in the Magnificent Devices world. Needless to say, I gobbled them up like candy over the past couple of days.
The first of the four books in the Manor House series is Carrick House. It was good to be back where it all started, with the Lady of Devices and her flock of ‘street sparrows’. Once homeless street urchins, this diverse collection of kids now resides and is schooled at Carrick House by Lady Claire, her new husband, Dr. Andrew Malvern, and the household cook. Carrick House is anything but peaceful, but it is a happy, nurturing place to find one’s footing. Lady Claire and Andrew are busy working on a new invention as well.
They certainly have their hands full, but in an epic example of poor timing, Claire’s mother arrives for a visit on short notice, bringing along her husband Sir Richard, and Claire’s little brother Nicholas. And if that isn’t enough, her good friend Peony Churchill shows up unexpectedly and desperately needs a place to stay. But the bulging house isn’t done receiving visitors yet, oh no. Lizzie, who’s been away at university, and cousin Claude are on their way, too!
I was amused by the frantic efforts to find sleeping quarters for everyone, all while Claire’s putting up with her mother’s domineering attitude. After getting everyone settled in, and giving up their own bedroom to her mother and Sir Richard, Claire and Andrew do what any newlywed couple might do under the circumstances – they flee to Athena, their airship, relieved to be able to settle into their snug bedroom on their home away from home.
Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan, I thought. It’s not as if anyone’s crazy enough to try to steal Athena in the dead of night, right?
Will the house literally burst at the seams? Will Claire and Andrew enjoy some blissful peace and quiet? Will the lecture they’re preparing be completed in time to present to the Royal Society of Engineers?
Well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself to find out. I can promise you surprises, conundrums, adventure, heartbreak, and good news. In other words, it’s a normal week at Carrick House.