I'm giving away no secrets when I tell you the howling is that of three children who have been found in the woods of the Ashton estate. From the blurb:
Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said: "They must have been raised by wolves."
The Incorrigible children actually were.
Discovered in the forests of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children. Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Miss Penelope Lumley, age 15 and a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is hired as their governess and she does a remarkable job of whipping them into human shape. But they must be ready to appear at a Christmas ball in only a few short weeks and that means they must master social chit chat, table manners, and how to dance the schottische.
If anyone can achieve this metamorphosis it is Miss Lumley, called by the children Lumawoo. In times of trouble she falls back on the sayings of Miss Swanburne: "Complaining won't butter the biscuit" or "If it weren't so tempting it wouldn't be called chocolate cake."
The book is full of major and minor mysteries: Who or what is behind the wall in the attic? Why does the mysterious coachman, Old Timothy, lurk in the woods when the children are playing? Who are these children in the first place and why were they being raised by wolves? Why does Sir Frederick say, "Finders keepers," and insist they stay at Ashton Place?
This is book is so wry, so charming, so full of unanswered questions. I can't wait for the next in the series.