Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Withering-By-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue, #1)” as Want to Read:
Withering-By-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(A Stella Montgomery Intrigue #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,403 ratings  ·  240 reviews
High on a cliff above the gloomy coastal town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp, dull hotel, eleven-year-old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three dreadful Aunts. But one night, Stella sees something she shouldn't have... Something that will set in motion and adventure more terrifying and more wonderful tha ...more
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published November 2014 by ABC Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Withering-By-Sea, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Judith Rossell Hi Gemma! Thank you! :) The sequel, Wormwood Mire, is underway. It will be out in Australia in November. Right now, I'm busy drawing the pictures. …moreHi Gemma! Thank you! :) The sequel, Wormwood Mire, is underway. It will be out in Australia in November. Right now, I'm busy drawing the pictures. (less)
Judith Rossell Hi Michelle - thanks for your question! Yes, Wakestone Hall will be the third (and final!) story for Stella. I'm just finishing the story now, and it …moreHi Michelle - thanks for your question! Yes, Wakestone Hall will be the third (and final!) story for Stella. I'm just finishing the story now, and it will be out (hopefully!) in November 2018. :) (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,403 ratings  ·  240 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Withering-By-Sea (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue, #1)
I did not see that coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought this was going to be a regular magical mystery, but it turned into a full-blow Studio Ghibli movie in book form and I loved every moment of it. I hope to be reading the sequels in the future because this was such a delightful, dark, and magical read.
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a middle-grade book, so personally I found it a little tame but as I'm clearly not the target audience I'll be reviewing it with that in mind.

It's a delightful little story: Stella lives at the Hotel Majestic with her three tyrannical aunts and dreams of the far-off places she learns about in her Atlas. Then one night she witnesses something she shouldn't and it puts her in the path of danger, running from an insidious enemy known as The Professor.

The setting is really beautifully detail
This is an enormously entertaining Victorian mystery-thriller for upper primary aged readers. Girls may like it more, simply due to the heroine being a girl, and one of the supporting characters Gert (whom I LOVED) also being a girl. But there's lots to enjoy for boys as well – monsters, magic, trickery, acrobatics, and action! And the other main supporting character is a boy, whom I look forward to seeing again in the second book, in his new life. Like most 'first in a series' books, there's a ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Stella Montgomery lay hidden behind the ferns in the conservatory of the Hotel Majestic, flat on the mossy tiles, tracing a path through the Amazon jungle in a small, damp atlas.'

In the town of Withering-by-Sea, in the Hotel Majestic, Stella Montgomery lives with her aunts: Condolence, Temperance and Deliverance. Poor Stella! She is often in trouble with her aunts as she would much rather go exploring than learn how to play the pianoforte. She’d rather read her atlas than learn French Conversat
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-book
This is seriously the best book I have EVER read! It starts off while Stella is reading her treasured atlas she found in a conservatory in hotel majestic. While she is reading, she hears someone come in, saying something she shouldn't of heard. Will they catch her?

Join Stella on a adventure of a lifetime that anyone 10-12+ will love. I really really really really REALLY loved it. I even emailed the author, Judith Rossel, and she replied! I hope everyone loves this book as much as I did, so pleas
In the Hotel Majestic, high above the town of Withering-by-Sea, Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three horrid aunts: Condolence, Temperance, and Deliverence.

When she should be spending her days learning pianoforte and French Conversation for Young Ladies, Stella prefers to be exploring or reading from her most prized possession - an old battered atlas of the world, and so she often finds herself in trouble with her aunts. But no amount of trouble compares to that which she find
I don't read much middle grade fiction but you can nearly always win me over with an intrepid orphan story and a little fantasy tossed in. Lonely-and-brave-when-she-has-to-be heroine, cruel guardians, unusual friends, bad guys in pursuit - what's not to like? It may not be incredibly original but I enjoyed it and quickly ordered the sequel. A third book about Stella has not yet been published in the US. My review:
Julie Grasso
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We begin with Stella, hiding behind some ferns in the conservatory. She is studying an atlas, her most prized possession. Within its pages, are hopes and dreams, that Stella may one day escape her horrid aunts and go on an adventure.
When poor Mr Filbert, an elderly gentleman staying at the Hotel Majestic, scurries in and hides a tiny package under a fern, Stella has no idea that adventure has just found her.

She retrieves the package, but is somewhat perplexed. It is just a tiny bottle, but wit
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Stella Montgomery intrigue is a series of three breathtaking books about a girl whose past is a mystery and whose future does not look fortunate. Stella lives with her aunts, Condolence, Temperance, and Deliverance. Her mother (Patience) has been missing for 9-10 years and now all Stella has for comfort is an atlas and an old photograph.

Stella is brave, she will stride through any amount of trouble, but, she is also shy and nervous which lets you into the mind of an unloved eleven year old.
Julia Tulloh Harper
Edit - reread 2020. Love this so much. Will continue to reread and reread.

Edit- Reread 2018...I love this book so much, it's one of my faves and I think I'll reread the series every year now. I've upped to 5 stars because I love it so much :)

This was awesome! A young heroine, magic, mystery, a secret past, a magical bottle, an evil professor, a guy with seven singing cats, a tower in the middle of the sea.... all accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. Incredible descriptions of the 19th century
May 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: series, read-in-2016
I really dislike giving books low ratings, but I couldn't justify giving Withering-by-Sea three stars.

It's not that the writing is terrible or that the characters are horribly flat. It's just rather dull. Nothing much happens in Withering-By-Sea and I almost felt like I was Withering-By-Sea while I read it. I kept wondering when the plot was going to take off, but it never did. Even scenes and plot points that should have been exciting or slightly frightening weren't.

It's one that I found myse
Steven Paulsen
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous quirky book for tweens. Girls will love but I think a lot of boys will enjoy it too. It's full of wonderful characters and strange goings on, like a 'girl's own adventure'. There is mystery, fantasy, adventure and fun to be had here. The illustrations are beautiful and really compliment the story. But be warned, I initially read the e-book version and later learned that it does not include all the illustrations. So in this case it's worth seeking out the print version because ...more
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 8th-grade
This book was amazing! Along with descriptive and amazing writing, there were beautiful drawings as well. The art style of the drawings showed really helped me visualize the characters and scenery. Judith Rossell really made me understand what the main character, Stella Montgomery, was feeling at the time. Her writing made me loose track of time as the story was so enjoyable! I would recommend this book to readers who love mystery with an element of magic!
Like Harry Potter, James from James and the Giant Peach and Lemony Snicket's poor Beaudelaire children, the child protagonist of this novel, Stella Montgomery, lives with three mean aunts. They live in a hotel high above a cliff in the town of Withering-by-the-Sea. The aunts take the nasty waters, bathe and promenade when they're not telling Stella how to behave like a respectable young lady! Stella longs for adventure and fun. She likes to spend her days secretly reading an old atlas in the hot ...more
✨ Aaron Jeffery ✨
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect the magical elements in this story, but I enjoyed reading it.
It is more a 3,5 star read for me, not bad but definitely not the best middle grade
I've ever read.
Still a fun and fast read and for it's target audience a good choice!
Megan Higginson
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
High on a cliff above the gloomy coastal town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp, dull hotel, eleven-year-old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three dreadful Aunts.

But one night, Stella sees something she shouldn't have ... Something that will set in motion an adventure more terrifying and more wonderful than she could ever have hoped for ...

This book had me hooked from the first page. I could not put it down. Judith kept me intrig
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable read. Lusciously quirky characters, a suitably dour Victorian setting, and a complex enough storyline that keeps you wanting more. I couldn't wait to find out how Stella would escape her next predicament. Judith Rossell has a wonderful imagination. Her artwork is a delight and her writing took me back to my childhood reading of Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree. ...more
Corrinne Hills
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this intriguing story. The wonderful language suited the era of the story and was set off perfectly by the navy print and the illustrations scatteted throughout. Great story, pleasurable to read and a perfect recipe to feed the love of reading to a new generation.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too cute, when can I read book 2?
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written in a similar style to Lemony Snicket, but a bit darker.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! I couldn't believe I finished it so quickly - the prose was so well-written and engaging that, before I knew it, I was ten pages from the end of the book. I wasn't ready for it to end! The characters are just delightful, and the illustrations suit the style of the story perfectly.

I would recommend this to children (and adults) who enjoy mysteries with a touch of magic. I'm off to buy the next book in the series (Wormwood Mire), and to add this lovely hardcover to m
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Withering-By-Sea is the first in the series.
Stella Montgomery lives with her aunts {Condolence, Temperance and Deliverance} in a town called Withering-By-Sea. They reside in the Hotel Majestic. The aunts are as grim as their names suggest.
One day Stella, whilst hiding from her aunts in the conservatory, sees Mr Filbert, a new resident of the Majestic, hide something under a fern in a pot. Later that night, she sneaks out to investigate and becomes involved in a mystery. Mr. Filbert is killed b
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Stella Montgomery has the worst relatives since Harry Potter! Her three aunts, her only relatives as far as she knows, are stuffy, doctrinaire, unloving, and just plain mean. They all live in the Hotel Majestic, a huge pile on the coast. Stella's only consolation is her atlas, left when an explorer died on the premises. When she leaves it in the conservatory, where she loves to hide from her obligations, she must make a treacherous midnight journey to retrieve it. But she sees a crime being comm ...more
Ava BookWorm
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So glad I got to re read! I was having a bit of a block and couldn't find anything I was interested in and coming back to an old favourite was exactly what I needed. I loved Stella, Gert, Ben and Mr Capelli just as much if not more than I did the first time ❤ 5 stars because I honestly can't find a flaw in this gorgeous book. ...more
Beth E
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
This was a fun book and a quick read, but it does have a rather dismal setting, offset by Stella cheerfulness and interest in the world around her.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
Initially attracted by the atmospheric and elegant cover, I was happily surprised when this middle-grade book lived up to its excellent marketing! A plucky heroine, a menacing and mysterious villain, and colorful side characters make this quick adventure a pleasure to read. Based sometime in the late 1800s, this tale has shades of steampunkery and (no spoilers) more than a hint of fantasy. One of the libraries at which I work shelves it under Juvenile Mystery, but it's fair to say that this book ...more
Wendy Orr
What a wonderful, rollicking read - reminiscent of Joan Aiken (who I adore) while being totally original. Loved it.
H.L. Carpenter
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Charming and funny with a few dark moments and a plucky young hero who very capably deals with all the bizarre happenings. Plus singing cats! What could be better? :)
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Stella lives with her three Aunts in a majestic hotel along the coast. Her Aunts are miserable and mean, demanding that Stella be quiet and dutiful. Stella though would rather read the dilapidated atlas that she discovered only partially burnt in the garbage pile behind the hotel. That is why she is in the quiet conservatory and witnesses something being hidden in one of the planters. The knowledge is just one part of the mystery that is about to unfold in the hotel. It is a mystery that Stella ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Girl Detective (Friday Barnes, #1)
  • Sick Bay
  • Under Suspicion (Friday Barnes, #2)
  • Danger Ahead (Friday Barnes, #6)
  • No Rules (Friday Barnes, #4)
  • Big Trouble (Friday Barnes, #3)
  • Two Wolves
  • Never Fear (Friday Barnes, #8)
  • Bitter Enemies (Friday Barnes, #7)
  • The Plot Thickens (Friday Barnes, #5)
  • Sensitive
  • How to Bee
  • The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (The Sinclair’s Mysteries #1)
  • The Other Side of Summer
  • Sister Heart
  • A Most Magical Girl
  • The Shop at Hoopers Bend
  • Tiger Daughter
See similar books…

Other books in the series

A Stella Montgomery Intrigue (3 books)
  • Wormwood Mire (A Stella Montgomery Intrigue, #2)
  • Wakestone Hall (Stella Montgomery, Book 3)

News & Interviews

What will you do when it's your turn to pick your book club's next read? Well, this is what you won't do: panic. Why not? Because we've dug...
114 likes · 22 comments