Tuesday 15 September 2009

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Pages - 192

Republished by Red Fox in 1992

Challenges - RIP and 100 books.

First paragraph

It was dusk - winter dusk. Snow lay white and shining over the pleated hills, and icicles hung from the forest trees. Snow lay piled on the dark road across Willoughby Wold, but from dawn men had been clearing it with brooms, and shovels. There were hundreds of them at work, wrapped in sacking because of the bitter cold, and keeping in groups for fear of the wolves, grown savage and reckless from hunger.

After acknowledging the title of the book and reading the first paragraph, I was convinced this book was about wolves - vicious, scary, bloody thirsty wolves.

Well I was wrong. The wolves feature in the first few chapters and then that is the last you hear about them, apart from a passing phrase, they really don 't feature that much in this book. To say I was disappointed, would be an understatement. Not that I didn't enjoy the book and find it quite a thrilling ride through the story, I just wanted the wolves to play a major role in the book and they didn't.

The book is set during the year of 1832. Bonnie's parents are about to embark on a lengthy cruise to aid her mother's ailing health. Bonnie is to be left with her cousin Sylvia as her companion, a recent addition to the family home, after living with her aunt whose is now too old to look after her. Both children were to be governed by a complete stranger Mrs Slighcarp, a distant cousin, whom Sir Willoughby has never met, but is quite happy to leave in charge of all his worldly possession. Mrs Slighcarp turns out to be a very evil old hag, who is intent on destroying all of Sir Willoughby's hard earned possessions before his return. Bonnie sets out with the help of Sylvia and some of the remaining servants to save her father from ruin.

The story was fast paced all the way through. It moved from location to location as Bonnie attempts to help her father by reaching his lawyer. At one point I wondered if I had actually stepped onto one of the sets from the film Annie.

Bonnie is a very strong character. For a child living during an era when children were seen and not heard, Bonnie is a force to be reckoned with. I do believe that she would give the teenagers of today a run for their money. Bonnie's forcefulness is diffused a little by her submissive cousin Sylvia.

Mrs Slighcarp is beyond evil. The pictures in the book show her as a rather larger than life character, towering over the young girls left in her care. She has a haughtiness about her and a fierceness that would even give me nightmares.

Books like this, make me grateful that I live during this century and that situations can almost be solved instantaneously by phone or by email and journeys across the world now only take a few hours rather than a few months.

I read this book quite quickly and I did enjoy it. As I said earlier, my only disappointment was the lack of wolves in the majority of the book. It is a good book to read, sitting with the lights down low, the fire flickering and the branches of a tree tapping on your window outside.

Another book to add to my RIP list.


  1. Sounds good, not sure of it's for me, hm, I just can't tell. It's one of those books you gotta try

  2. I was a bit surprised when you wrote that the wolves only had a small part of this book. The title and the cover is a bit misleading I would say, I'm glad that you enjoyed the book!

    I think it sounds like a good book, and when you mentioned Annie I have to say that I really loved the 80's move version of Annie.

  3. Grief theres a blast from the past - I can remember reading this book many a year ago. I wonder if I still have a copy? Thanks for brnging back the memory.

  4. I'm sorry you were let down that it wasn't more wolf-ish, but I'm glad that you enjoyed it anyway! And yes, Bonnie was SUCH a great character.

  5. Love this book - wolves or no wolves! Glad you enjoyed it, too.

  6. That is disappointing. Why build up about the wolves if you aren't going to use them throughout the book? Glad you still enjoyed it though!

  7. This book is on my reading list and I hope I get the chance to read it soon. Thank you for your honest review! I am glad you enjoyed it anyway:)

  8. Wow, talk about about misleading. Happy ypu liked it despite the cameo of wolves.

    Guess you can't judge a book by its cover ;7.

  9. It sounds good, even though the wolves didnt appear much in the story. Great review.
    'It is a good book to read, sitting with the lights down low, the fire flickering and the branches of a tree tapping on your window outside.'<-I like that!

  10. I've heard about this book several times but yours is the only review I've seen. Sounds good! I'll definitely look for it.

    Nice blog by the way...I'm now a follower.


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