The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood
by Susan Wittig Albert

Broadway Books, 2006. ISBN 0425215067.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 10/25/2007

Fiction: Mystery; Teen/Girls

If the village of Near Sawrey put out its weekly newspaper about the fortnight during which this story takes place, some of the headlines would read: "Major Christopher Kittredge returns to Raven Hall with his Lovely New Bride" and "Rat Explosion at Hill Top Farm Threatens Village" and "Village Plans May Day Celebration" and perhaps "Stay Clear of the Cuckoo Brow Wood on May Eve." The society column might feature: "Miss Beatrix Potter Returns to Hill Top Farm" and "Local Society Attends Grand Reception at Raven Hall." As salacious as these headlines might be, the devil is in the details.

The third in Susan Wittig Albert's Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series continues to enchant both grownups and young women edging toward adulthood. How lovely it is to curl up with a book about an old-fashioned, out-of-the-way English Lake Country village, complete with sheep birthing lambs and delectable smells coming from the village bakery, with dogs, cats, rats, and other four-legged animals conversing so sensibly. With just that, however, the tale could become dull in no time. So throw in a few wicked, scheming adults, some rowdy, shameless rats, a few mercenary cats, a bit of romance, some children who need a bit of help, and, of course, Miss Potter, and you have a rousing tale.

Albert builds the tale and weaves multiple plots with skill and charm. And all is resolved satisfactorily, except for the question of whether or not there are really fairies in Cuckoo Brow Wood. To find out what the story is behind each headline, you must read and revel in The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood.

Susan Wittig Albert is the founder and continuing supporter of Story Circle Network. Her China Bayles herbal mystery series and her Beatrix Potter series continue to charm and engage readers. Albert has written a Victorian mystery series with her husband under the name Robin Paige, as well as non-fiction. Visit her Cottage Tales website.

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