While overall I enjoyed this book, I did find myself wishing that Kate had had an editor who used her red pen more often. When I read a good, satisfying novel, I want to know how it is all going to turn out. Although this book is described as a mystery, it is obvious early on who Nell’s parents were. The only mystery is whether Cassandra is going to discover the truth. As it is, she only learns part of it.
The reader also learns only part of the story. Why do the men in the story behave as they do? What happened to Nell’s father? What what Linus’s feelings about his sister?
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden is an obvious influence, as are other Victorian novels. As an E. Nesbit follower and a Victorian and Edwardian literature adherent, I enjoyed the literary references and the fairy tale connections. I just wish it had been more concise.