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)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,017 ratings  ·  200 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.
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
4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,017 ratings  ·  200 reviews

Sort order
Richard Denney
It's giving me vintage Edward Gorey feels and I love it and the premise of the book sounds exactly like something I'd adore!

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
Kristy ▪ The Reader Dragon
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
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 with
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kinder, mystery
3.5 Sterne

Ab und an lese ich solche Kinderbücher auch sehr gerne zwischendurch, wobei ich hier sagen muss, dass ich nicht ganz das bekommen habe, was ich erwartet hatte.

Den Einstieg fand ich richtig klasse, denn man lernt sofort Stella kennen und sie war mir als Kind sofort total sympathisch, weil sie so eine wundervolle, lebhafte Fantasie besitzt! Sie lebt ja mit ihren Tanten im "Hotel Majestic" - das muss irgendwo in der Nähe von London sein - und hat außer französisch und Klavierspielen zu
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
4,5 Sterne

Zu Beginn dachte ich, das wird ein bißchen wie Cluedo. Eine cosy Mystery mit einem Toten im Hotel, und jetzt wird versucht den Tätern auf die Spur zu kommen. Und unsere Protagonistin Stella versteckt ein wichtiges Beweismittel und hilft wahrscheinlich auch ein bißchen bei der Detektivarbeit.

Doch da lag ich gewaltig falsch, denn Stella ist mittendrin im Geschehen und wird vom Professor und seinen Schurken gejagt und mit Hilfe von Magie immer wieder aufgespürt. Anscheinend ist das kleine
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stella Montgomery lebt zur Zeit der Hochräder, Gaslampen und Korsetts mit ihren drei Tanten im Hotel Majestic in Withering-by-Sea. Die Damen Ernesta, Augusta und Regula wohnen als Dauergäste im Hotel, um sich in der Bäderabteilung zu aalen und das Mineralwasser aus der Hotelquelle zu trinken. Die Tanten sind eine ziemliche Last in Stellas Leben, am liebsten hätte sie, wenn die drei einfach von einem Python verschlungen würden. Von einer der Tanten wird Stella in „Französische Konversation für ju ...more
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
Julia Tulloh Harper
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 scenery including a theatre on the pier and all the circus acts inside, a hotel
May 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
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.
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.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
Although this was a fast read, I felt like parts in the beginning were a bit too confusing. If they were confusing to me, by their descriptions, how easy would it be for a child to understand, in which this is aimed for. I read this thinking it would be something my 11 year old would enjoy, but after reading it, I know that it wouldn't have been.

This story wasn't bad, I just feel like a lot of it was rushed or that characters weren't really drawing you into them. Stella lives with her three aun
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
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
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.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantasy für Kinder in der viktorianischen Zeit.
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
Helen Stower
At the beginning of this book, Stella Montgomery is witness to a murder and her life is placed in danger as those responsible seek to capture both her and the object she has vowed to hide and protect. This is a most wonderful Victorian mystery and adventure that involves villains, trickery, magic, theatre, courageous children and many plot twists.

In the same vein as books such as The Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, and The Billionaire’s Curse, this book contains kids being orphaned a
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Delightful illustrations accompany this exciting tale of Stella Montgomery, a young girl held practically captive by three cranky old Aunts. They live in luxury in the Hotel Majestic in Withering-by-Sea. Stella, longing for more out of life, is hiding, reading her beloved Atlas in the conservatory one night when more comes to her--in the form of a mysterious old man trying to hide something in a planter. The evil Professor and his minions suddenly arrive in pursuit, and the old man begs Stella t ...more
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg, fantasy
Delightful story that reminds me a bit of Eva Ibbotson or Roald Dahl. A young girl with three repressive aunts is living at a hotel with nasty mineral waters. Her only consolation is a world atlas. One night she goes to retrieve it from the hotel conservatory and a mysterious man gives her a silver bottle to safeguard against the obviously evil magician known as the Professor. After this she is on the run from the Professor and his dastardly henchmen, drawing on special abilities she previously ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stella is an orphan in the care of her three dreadful Aunts who are taking the waters in the Hotel Majestic. She knows nothing of her parents and finds her only solace in stolen moments with an atlas she rescued from the refuse. One day while hidden in the conservatory, she sees a hotel guest hide something in an urn and that night, the real story of her life begins..

Immediately engaging and absorbing, this wonderful story has all the feel of a childhood classic complete with family secrets, mon
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Iris and the Tiger
  • Dragonfly Song
  • Girl Detective (Friday Barnes #1)
  • The Fall
  • Song for a Scarlet Runner
  • A Most Magical Girl
  • The Children of the King
  • Sister Heart
  • Race to the End of the World (The Mapmaker Chronicles, #1)
  • How to Catch a Bogle (City of Orphans, #1)
  • In the Dark Spaces
  • How to Bee
  • Operation Bunny (Wings & Co, #1)
  • Catching Teller Crow
  • After the Lights Go Out
  • Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter
  • Beth's Story, 1914 (Secrets of the Manor, #1)
  • The Truth About Verity Sparks (Verity Sparks, #1)

Other books in the series

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