The story opens with 13-year-old Maria Merryweather traveling from London with her duenna and little dog to Moonacre Manor after the death of her father. Now an orphan, Maria must stay with closest relative, Sir Benjamin Merryweather. Moonacre is an enchanted place where friendships are forged on first sight and animals display human-like intelligence and fierce allegiance (reminiscent of The Secret Garden). The lines between good and evil, proper and improper are distinct and clear.
This is a story with some little drama. It is, however, beautifully written with a dream-like quality and all the stereotypical characters of a classic fairy tale. I grew up reading the L.M. Montgomery (the Emily of New Moon series being a favorite), and this story will appeal to those young readers who share my love of beautiful story telling. Not everyone will enjoy it (just see the Kirkus Review to see that not all appreciate crafty and elegant manipulation of language) but then again, not everyone will pass sixth grade English.