Clara and her Mom live in a big crumbling mansion with elderlyMrs. Glendoveer and the housekeeper Ruby. Clara has a heart condition and her Mom won’t let her play outside or go to school. Clara watches the kids walk home from school from an upstairs window. She wishes and wishes she could go to school and have friends. It’s not that her life is bad…it’s just lonely.
There is one thing about the house Clara doesn’t like at all and that’s the birds. Five birds live in the backyard in a large pen called an aviary. The birds are squawky and mean spirited. Clara hates to go near them. For some reason Mrs. Glenoveer loves the birds and worries about them all the time. Sometimes people can get really attached to their pets.
One day when Clara is standing at the window watching the children walk home from school one of the girls sees her and waves. Clara can hardly believe it. When the little girl shows up at the door with her mother Clara really can’t believe it. A real girl who could be her friend! Clara’s Mom does not approve and so the girls start a secret friendship. Daphne is really curious about Clara and the old mansion and old Mrs. Glendoveer. When Daphne tells Clara what the town thinks about Mrs. Glendoveer Clara is astounded.
It turns out the Mrs. Glendoveer once had children of her own. One of them disappeared and the rest of them…were murdered! The murderer was never discovered and the town thinks Mrs. Glendoveer and her husband did it. Clara refuses to believe that kind Mrs. Glendoveer would do anything so terrible and sets out to solve a 50 year old mystery. Clara follows clues in the mansion, in the memories of some elderly townspeople, in old scrapbooks and diaries and in the story of her own father to prove once and for all what happened to the children. The trouble is, will anyone believe her? Will you?
The Aviary is very much like The Secret Garden with old family secrets, a lonely little girl in a mansion, a garden and something mysterious going on that can’t quite be explained. The mood is a little creepy. Candles extinquish themselves. The birds act strangely when Clara is present. Clara’s Mom turns quiet and stiff when certain questions are asked. And othen there is the murders. That alone is creepy enough! Author: Kathleen O’Dell
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