The Thornthwaite Inheritance
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While The Thornthwaite Inheritance is reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Events it is far better written than the Snicket series, and far less manipulative towards its readers. Gareth P Jones avoids the laboured, repetitive jokes and the formulaic plotting. Admittedly, his murders and mysteries are set in and around the familiar Gothic manor house to a soundtrack of Gothic thunderstorms, but they are permeated by an ironic and original humour. From the opening sentence onwards – ‘Lorelli and Ovid Thornthwaite had been trying to kill each other for so long that neither twin could remember which act of attempted murder came first’ – there is much for a young reader to relish. The cast includes a sallow-faced head servant, a cook with a secret, a nurse with another secret, a trusty gardener, a shifty lawyer (with more secrets), a mildly deranged priest and a confused detective. A large black-faced bear, loose in the Thornthwaite estate, adds to the entirely unthreatening perils which surround the quartet of teenage characters lost in the maze of the plot.
And here, it seems, there are to be no sequels as per the Snicket series, since the loose ends are tied up, villains get their due desserts – quite spectacularly in the case of the murderous architect of the twins’ troubles, who is electrocuted by a metallic chessboard amid a final crescendo of thunder and lightning, leaving the youthful heroes and heroines to anticipate a more cheerful, if more conventional future.