The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell Book Review

Friends, I’m about to push a new book on you. One of the best books I’ve read in 2011 is The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell. The Aviary is a quiet middle grade novel with a touch of Anne Of Green Gables crossed with The Secret Garden as an influence. It’s historical fantasy with a Gothic feel, a book that DEMANDS you get sucked within it’s pages. Plus, that cover just holds your eye and doesn’t let go with the gorgeous green and the black and the birds, with the old school feel. Clearly, O’Dell was blessed by the cover gods. You guys, buckle your seat belts because you are about to ride the gush roller coaster.

The Aviary, Green, Birds, Girl, Kathleen O'Dell, Book Cover

The Aviay

Twelve year old Clara Dooley is a lonely girl. Due to a heart condition Clara has never left the Glendoveer mansion where her mother and another maid named Ruby take care of frail Mrs. Glendoveer, a woman who has lost everything. Her husband is dead. Four of her children were murdered and the family baby went missing, many years ago. Her sole pleasure in life seems to be the birds in the aviary. Clara’s life isn’t too terrible, Mrs. Glendoveer and Ruby are kind to her and she has all the books she could ever want. Yet, Clara desperately wants a friend.

When Clara hears one of the birds squaking ‘Elliotttttt’, she finds herself on the path to unravel an old mystery, clear the Glendoveer name AND make a dear friend along the way in Daphne Aspinol who is new to the neighborhood and refuses to listen to hearsay. You guys, my eyes are like hearts while describing the bare bones plot. You have to understand how much I loved The Aviary.

O’Dell’s writing is like a richly woven tapestry. While I had guessed some things from the beginning, there are different threads I only pulled at. The way the story unravels is beautiful. Kathleen O’Dell deftly combined BIRDS ILY, characters – not a single poor drawn character to be found, plot-hello I read this late into the night, world building -I can picture the historical New England town and it’s suspicious neighbors perfectly, and pacing – there’s never a dull moment and tension runs high.

YOU GUYS. Do you like mysteries? Do you like friendship? Did you want Anne Shirley and Diana to be your best friend or bosom buddy? YOU GUYYYYYS Daphne and Clara have such a wonderful, supportive, healthy, un-vindictive friendship and I just want to hold them up as an example of the type of friends we ALL deserve in life.

The Aviary is fan-fricken-tastic. You do yourself a real disservice by not reading it. The ending had me cheering and smiling hard. Yet, the last of the pages also left me melancholy, in that I had to leave Kathleen O’Dell’s entrancing prose for the next book on my list.

Disclosure: Obtained via the library but you can bet your bottom dollar I WILL purchase a copy of this.

This is a CYBILS book.

Other Reviews of The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell:

A Thousand Wrongs
The Pen And Ink Blog

Purchase a copy of The Aviary here. Because this book is TOTALLY BITCHIN’. Really it is that good. Also that link takes you to Amazon, land of the shill and yes, dudes, I am such a shill but hey Good Books & Good Wine gets a small commission at NO extra cost to you, which helps this blog to be supported by readers like you.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I loved this book! It was fantastic, and I completely agree that it’s one of the best I’ve read this year. I have an ARC copy but I’m thinking about buying an final copy as well.

  2. I’ve been lusting after it since you first mentioned it and I looked up the synopsis, and your review FINALLY put me over the edge!

    I ordered it 🙂

  3. I love your enthusiastic review! It’s made me want to go and pick up a copy right now. Going to order it later today 🙂

  4. I’m not much for vampires, This recommendation made me want to go to the library ASAP. Thanks.

  5. Oh! Oh! Oohhhhhh!!! I almost bought a copy of this on Book Depository the other day when I was accidentally buying books. I didn’t mean to buy books, they just happened to fall into my shopping cart when I thought I was putting them on my wish list. True story. Really.

    But I wasn’t sure about this one so I didn’t buy it. NOW I HAVE TO!

    Damn you.

  6. I feel like I might have found the perfect site for me, an adult who loves YA.
    But…please, PLEASE, stop spelling “its” possessive “it’s”–it makes me want to disregard your site which I had found compelling.


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