Okay, I’ma ’bout to get nit-picky. Between books four and five they changed the style and design of the cover art which is no surprised as they changed artists. They also went from the deckle edge paper to regular old straight edge paper… UGH. It appears from her website that future releases of the books will have different cover art most likely using the current artist. I am not a huge emoticon user, but let me describe my face right now. I am frowning. My eyebrows are furrowed. Basically, my face is the annoyed emoticon. Why do I care? Hmmm, that is an interesting question. The ONLY reason I picked up the first book in the series was because the cover intrigued me. I had never heard of the author. The series was new. This book was heavily discounted when the Border’s bookstores went out of business, so it hadn’t been offloaded already which led me to believe it couldn’t be THAT great of a book. Then I saw those deckled edges on the paper… oh how I knew whether the book was awful or not, someone cared enough about the book binding AND cover art to make some great stylistic decisions. If someone cared so much, I needed to find out if this book was worthwhile. Happily, I loved the book, and bought all subsequent books when they came out. I’ll finish off the series, because I love it, but books five and six will stare at me from my shelves, looking ugly and uncared for.
Now, on to the story. Books within a series are challenging. The writer has to capture any potential readers just stumbling INTO a series, and then manage to treat with care characters that returning readers love. Readers begin to feel investment in the characters they’ve followed, they also begin to feel almost proprietary. See my above rant about changing cover artists, and paper choice! Wood deals with these dilemmas with a deft hand. She reintroduces old friends, and we meet enough new characters to keep the story interesting. THIS is what a great book in a series should look like. It should make you want more. The book begins back at Ashton Place where Miss Lumley, governess to the Incorrigible children, is dealing with Lady Constance’s increasing demands and Lord Ashton’s desire to rid his family of an age old curse before his wife gives birth. They aren’t the easiest of employers and poor Miss Lumley has to navigate their odd habits with those of her charges. The family removes to Brighton, a town by the sea, and meets an interesting Russian family. Miss Lumley spends her time trying to protect her charges, rid the Ashtons of a curse, and interpret her own heart in regards to Simon, the play write.
The Unmapped Sea is delightfully ridiculous. Sure, the scenarios are implausible and the characters unreal, but Wood does it so well. I was captivated and emotionally invested from the first page (once I got over the lame cover art…) to the last and found myself so enthusiastic for the next offering. I am so excited to finish out this series.