Posted by: Lizzie Ross | April 5, 2010

Kids in jeopardy

Wolves Chronicles, Joan Aiken, 11 vols. published 1962-2005

These books take place during the reigns of King James III and his son Richard IV, in the late 1800s. If you know the rulers of England, you know there was never a James III or Richard IV; Aiken has created an alternative line of succession, with the Stewarts still on the throne, and the dastardly Hanoverians plotting continuously to take over.

But her truly original creations here are her main characters–Sylvia and Bonnie in the first book, Simon and Dido Twite in the second, and then Dido or her sister Is in all the rest. Intrepid, clever, resourceful, lucky, funny–all the traits you’d want in characters who must deal with ravenous wolves, musical traitors, and repeated kidnappings.

The settings range from England to New England (including some whaling) to South America, and the varied plots involve such elements as a disappeared lake, a pink whale, a mile long cannon, or St. Paul’s Cathedral on wheels.

Of all Aiken’s work, these are my favorite.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, Nightbirds on Nantucket, The Stolen Lake, The Cuckoo Tree, Dido and Pa, Is Underground, Cold Shoulder Road, Dangerous GamesMidwinter Nightingale, The Witch of Clatteringshaws


  1. […] to start. For sheer enjoyment, nothing beats Aiken’s plots and characters. See my earlier post for more on Dido and the Wolves […]

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