Limbo Lodge – Joan Aiken

Limbo LodgeOnce again Dido Twite’s journey back to her beloved England has been delayed (you must be wondering whether she will ever make it home!). This time it’s because of an order from the King to find Lord Herodsfoot, who is travelling the world in search of new and interesting games. He is much needed back home to help cure the King of a mysterious illness.

So we begin the book with poor Dido preparing for yet another adventure. Although not quite as creepy as The Stolen Lake, the setting of this book is also full of strangeness and magic. Dido learns which creatures to avoid, but the deadly pearl-snakes and killer sting-monkeys turn out to be the least of her worries in Aratu.  Continue reading

The Stolen Lake – Joan Aiken

The Stolen LakeNext in the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series, we have The Stolen Lake. It’s a wonderfully eerie book set in the strange country of New Cumbria, where Captain Hughes of the Thrush has mysteriously been sent for by their Queen. This is unfortunate for our heroine Dido Twite, whose journey back to England is interrupted once again.

Dido and a select few members of the crew, including the Captain, are immediately struck with the strangeness of New Cumbria. The people are distant and shifty and where are all the children? It’s clear that no one can be trusted!

Captain Hughes plans to see the Queen of the country as soon as possible and get the whole adventure over with, but things are never as easy as that in a Joan Aiken book!  Continue reading

Night Birds on Nantucket – Joan Aiken

$(KGrHqUOKpQE1qfIYeKuBNfvMuRyhw~~_35The third book in the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series follows one of my favourite childhood heroines, Dido Twite. This is the first book (of quite a few), where she takes over as the main protagonist and she is simply brilliant.

Dido wakes up after a long sleep to find herself on a whaling ship with an odd captain who has a strange obsession with a pink whale. Although longing to get home to England, she promises Captain Casket that she will look after his timid daughter, Dutiful Penitence (as Dido would say, “glad I wasn’t saddled with such a handle!”) on the island of Nantucket.

However all is not right on the island, and Dido once again finds herself at the centre of a Hanoverian plot to blow up the King in England. Continue reading

Black Hearts in Battersea – Joan Aiken

Black Hearts in BatterseaAs promised in my recent post about The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, I have re-read the next book in the series.

Black Hearts in Battersea follows kind-hearted Simon, the goose boy from the previous book. When he arrives in London to enrol at an art school, he finds that his friend Dr Field is missing. His new home, where Dr Field is supposed to be living, smells oddly of the doctor’s paints, but otherwise there is no trace of him, and the landlords swear that they have never even heard of him. There’s something fishy about the landlords. The Twites are a fantastic family; they are loud and dirty, rude and untrustworthy and Simon is sure that they have something to do with Dr Field’s disappearance. That doesn’t stop him from making friends with the youngest Twite, Dido.

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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

the wolves of willoughby chaseI was ill a few weeks ago and couldn’t concentrate on my current book, so picked up this old favourite of mine from my childhood instead.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is packed with all of the right ingredients to make a smashing children’s adventure. When Sir Willoughby and his wife leave for a long trip abroad, they arrange for their daughter and niece to be looked after by a distant relative, the perfectly named Miss Slighcarp. With a name like that, it’s no surprise when the stern governess turns out to be a villainous and scheming woman with a plot to steal all of Sir Willoughby’s money. The two girls, Bonnie and Sylvia suffer much cruelty at the hands of their ghastly governess and later in a nearby orphanage workhouse. However, the girls are resourceful and with the help of Simon, a goose boy who lives in the woods, they plan their escape.  Continue reading