The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (*Includes Spoilers*)
Posted May 20th, 2014 by Cherrybomb
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
By Legrand, Claire; Illustrated by Watts, Sarah
Children’s General Fiction
Victoria Wright is the perfect version of a 12 year-old girl, with immaculate grades, a stellar sense of organization, and a stubborn sense of what should and shouldn’t be done in the world.
Her friend Lawrence couldn’t be any different; he forgets to tuck his shirt, his grades are lower than average, and even his appearance is lacking, with a long white strip running down the middle of his unruly black hair. Worst of all, he constantly plays the wretched piano—not that he was bad at it, he was really quite good, except Victoria considered it a waste of time.
Victoria believes it is her job to take on Lawrence as her own special project—a pity project, if you will. However, one seemingly ordinary day, Lawrence disappears from the town of Belleville. The adults only tell Victoria lies, or nothing at all, which leads to Victoria doing her own snooping.
This leads her to The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, a suspicious orphanage owned by a strikingly pretty lady, Mrs. Cavendish, and a hunched gardener, Mr. Alice. Eventually, Victoria learns the orphanage isn’t ordinary—it’s far from it. All the children there have ‘flaws’, such as Lawrence loving music far too much, and really aren’t orphans at all. Somehow, their parents forget about them—the reason why is discovered later in the book. Victoria is kidnapped as well, with her own imperfection of putting her nose into things she should stay away from—since she is stubborn, and will find out what is going on no matter what silly things the adults say.
To add to it all, the Cavendish Home isn’t an ordinary house—there are strange, mangled gofers scuttling about as servants, voices in the walls, and every night, strange sounds haunt the corridors. The children are scared by it all, having to go through Mrs. Cavendish’s strict rules and painful ‘coachings’, which forcingly rid the children of their flaws. No child has ever stayed past the age of thirteen—they are either ‘perfect’ by then and released, or they go missing. The missing children later turn out to be the gofers, which are used as servants, while their limbs are occasionally chopped off to make food for the children—even their eyes are used as yellow candies. Victoria discovers all these secrets and more, eventually recruiting the help of Lawrence and all the other frightened children, to defeat the horrible Mrs. Cavendish once and for all.
This children’s novel was a delightful read; it was well-paced, and the author thoroughly explained certain points in the story, so as not to leave plot holes. The genre was interesting as well, a mix between horror, fantasy, realistic fiction, and fairy-tails. The characters certainly were not Mary Sues or Gary Stus, each with their own individual character and unique personality. This was especially true of Victoria, whom one would normally consider to be a secondary character, what with her meticulous personality and tedious upbringing.
The plot was also quite diverse—while the book did remain close to one main plot, there were various smaller stories discovered and resolved throughout. There were many surprising twists that I had not expected—such as by the gophers being the supposedly missing children, acting as a food source to the rest of the orphans. The setting of the book was also quite interesting, the perfect, pristine Bellville, and the monstrosity that lay in its core, a house that was almost alive.
Furthermore, I have to applaud the writer’s style of writing. Her words remained thoroughly simple and straightforward; yet, stringed together, they formed masterpieces that kept my hooked the entire time I was reading. This would be especially delightful to a younger child, since they would not have trouble reading and understanding the story, without the sentence structure being dumbed down too drastically. The author used many literary devices as well, but what I noticed more was her tendency to hide certain mysteries in the book, which you don’t realize were mysteries until after you’ve solved them. It was impressive, considering all the other literary elements she had to keep in mind.
Despite all these excellent points the book had, there was a certain thing which remained unexplained, even after 300 and some pages. It was another plot hole—why Mrs. Cavendish never kept children past the age of 13. Was it because they would soon reach puberty, and perhaps become unchangeable adults? Was it simply because she hated the number, thinking it was unlucky? Or was there a deeper, darker secret behind the reasoning of this? Whatever it was, it was never explained. However, this left me only slightly dissatisfied, as the author took good care to cover the majority of potential plot holes.
Overall, this is an excellent read for an all-nighter or a rainy day, appropriate for ages 10 and above, and perhaps younger, depending on how mature the particular child is. The variants in the genre help the novel appeal to a majority of people, the characters are lovable in their own fantastic ways, and the ending is both satisfyingly sweet and darkly mysterious, leaving strings left untied for the readers own fanciful imagination.
(A/N: This is the first book review I've ever written, so. O_O It was for round five of the Whirlwind. Also, I'm sorry I forgot to post this on Sunday. xD)
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