The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The cover is purple. That alone is enough to make me grab for the reissued The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. It’s got a menacing looking wolf as well. That’s what you get when you have channel tunnels that will let anything through from foreign lands. So not a good idea. Joan Aiken was well before her time with that tunnel.

Joan Aiken, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a wonderful book, even if it’s not my favourite in the by now pretty long saga of Willoughby Chase stories. But it sets the scene nicely, and it introduces one of my favourite characters. That’s what’s so fun, actually. We meet two young girls in this one, Bonnie and Sylvia, and then they don’t turn up again in the other books. Except very briefly, a lot later.

We do meet the villain, Miss Slighcarp, and she turns up far too much. She’s probably one of the most long lived and evil women in children’s literature. The wolves are nothing compared to her. But they are scary.

I always think this is quite a Christmassy story. Could it be the snow, or am I just a bit mad?

But it’s a nice mix of cruelty and slavery and courage and friendship and a happy ending. And as I said, it leads on to more wonderful books, and to the marvellous Dido Twite. I’ve tried to find out if Cape are planning to bring out all the books, or if this is a one-off. Still don’t know.

I do hope they are all being reissued. I have very fond memories of finding the books the first time round, going into a particular branch of the large chain store and finding the next book. It worked every time, while many other shops didn’t stock them at all. And Son was as keen as I was. That will be why he has them in his bookcase.

Are they in yours?

8 responses to “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

  1. Yes they are. Currently reading the series with my 10-year-old daughter, who loves them. I notice that her older brother, who is far too manly to read such books himself, always seems to be eavesdropping close by when we are reading…

  2. You’ll have to assure the young man that they are very manly books. Even the Resident IT Consultant loves them. Although that might not be seen as a guarantee.
    I have been told they are hoping to publish the other books as well, so we have something to look forward to.

  3. Most of them are. I think I may be missing one or two of the later ones. Black Hearts in Battersea is one of my favourites.

  4. I LOVED this when I was a small girl. I remember being terrified reading the passage in the overnight train. I then went on to read it to both my daughters, but for some reason, not my sons. Not a deliberate omission, but one that I regret now, when I think about it. Such great books, but I have to confess that this was my favourite of them all.

  5. They most certainly are! Joan Aiken was my all-time favourite author when I was a child and I’ve read all her books. I actually started with ‘Black Hearts in Battersea’ and like Malorie, it remains my favourite to this day. ‘Nightbirds on Nantucket’ is close behind – I actually thought Nantucket was an imaginary place until a friend of mine moved there and invited me to stay! I love the whole series – Dido is such a wonderful, feisty character: the kind of fearless girl that I wanted to be…

  6. I love Joan Aiken’s Wolves sequence and the first one is quite magical to me. I prefer Black Hearts In Battersea as a novel (because it has lots of Dido of course). Funny how Dido seems to take over the whole series. I’ve got as far as The Limbo Lodge so I’ve lots to come!

  7. In what order did you get to Limbo Lodge? I found I got confused when the next book (written long before LL) didn’t allow for what Dido had done in LL.

  8. Pingback: Wolves, again | Bookwitch

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