Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
published 1962
181 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie's parents leave for a sea voyage. The girls can't believe what's happening when Miss Slighcarp dismisses the servants, sells the furniture, and send the girls to a prison-like orphan school. With the help of Simon the gooseboy, the escape the school and set out to free their home.

My thoughts:

When I signed up for the Shelf Discovery Challenge, I specifically picked a list of books that I had not read as a kid. (Yes, for those of you who knew me as a kid, there were in fact age-appropriate books I didn't read. Probably because I was too busy trying to sneak Regency romances home from the library without my mom's knowledge, but that's another story...) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is the first such "classic" that I never managed to read as a child, and I'm sorry it took me so long.

Wolves is like a checklist of things I like in novels: two plucky, self-sufficient heroines? Check. Parents absent and/or dead? Check. (Who else has noticed that nothing fun ever happens in novels until the parents leave?) Boarding schools? Double check - we all know my penchant for a good boarding school story. Truly evil villians? Triple check, with the trifecta of Grimshaw, Miss Slighcarp, and Mrs. Brisket to reign terror over our dear Bonnie and Sylvia. (Another aside - don't these characters have simply brilliant names? I mean, who WOULDN'T be evil with a name like Miss Slighcarp.)

While the plot is somewhat predictable, most likely because by now it has been ripped off by a bevy of other YA authors, the tension that Aiken conveys throughout the book is palpable. And behind everything, the fear of the wolves - actual wolves, one of which comes crashing through a train window at Sylvia - just adds to the creepy nature of the book.

I found this book to be simply delightful. Apparently, Aiken has written a whole series of Wolves Chronicles, though I don't think they necessarily follow Bonnie and Sylvia - however, I definitely plan to look for more of them.

Finished: 2/4/10
Source: Forest Avenue libary
Rating: 8/10

This book counts toward:

1/6 completed

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