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Black Hearts in Battersea
Joan Aiken
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Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles #2)

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  3,363 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
Simon, the foundling from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, arrives in London to meet an old friend and pursue the study of painting. Instead he finds himself unwittingly in the middle of a wicked crew's fiendish caper to overthrow the good King James and the Duke and Duchess of Battersea. With the help of his friend Sophie and the resourceful waif Dido, Simon narrowly escap ...more
Paperback, 0 pages
Published November 1st 1987 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1964)
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The strange algorithms of Amazon recommended a book to me a few years ago: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. I had never heard of it, but it seemed interesting enough.

That is an understatement.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is an unbelievably fun and charming book set in an alternate England, where James III rules, the Hanoverian Pretender plots to retake the throne, and wolves run amok over the isle of Britain. No, I'm not being metaphorical: wolves, like in a pack, with sharp teeth
Simon, a minor character in Black Hearts in Battersea (but one who clearly took over Aiken's heart), leaves Yorkshire for London where he can study painting. However, after arriving in London at the home of the Twite family, he is mystified by the disappearance of his mentor, Dr. Field. No one admits to having seen Dr. Field but there are hints he has been at the Twites, in addition to the letter he sent Simon urging him to come stay with him there. Simon enrolls at the art academy as planned an ...more
Sep 21, 2009 carrietracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Lies, deceptions, treasonous plots, mistaken identity, hot air balloons, wolves at the door, stowaways and completely indecipherable dialect. How could you go wrong? I completely loved this even though it took me a bit to get into it, once it gets going though, it's hard to put down.
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
This was a fast-paced, fun, and exciting mystery/adventure story. It finds Simon (from the Wolves of Willoughby Chase) heading to London to study painting at the invitation of Dr Field but on reaching there, not only is there no sign of Dr Field, no one at his lodgings seems to have heard of him. Simon starts his classes, finds a job, and reconnects with his friend Sophie, while on the sidelines continuing to investigate the disappearance of Dr Field. He is helped by the rather unattractive (at ...more
Jun 18, 2011 X rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I never read this series when I first discovered Aiken's alternate history London in Midnight Is a Place, but I'm enjoying it now. It's a quick read, not dark by my standards (though bad things do happen they are tempered with humor), and it was easy to gloss over any historical contexts that I was clueless about (it's summer after all, and I didn't want to make myself think too much). I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I do wonder about something at the end which I thought was sho ...more
Jenn Estepp
i reiterate what i said upon reading "nightbirds." which boils down to fangirlish, "how did i not read these before now, they are awesome." although i have to say, i am glad i read that one first, because i'm not sure that i would've loved dido if this was my first intro to her. i loved all the good characters and hated all the bad ones and wonder why more children's books today don't involve nefarious plots, wolves and hot air balloons.
Sep 06, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Afternoon Drama:
A dramatisation of Joan Aiken's classic children's adventure. Young Simon comes to 18th century London to study painting - and finds himself caught up in wicked Hanoverian plots to overthrow the king.
Lady Shockley
Mar 14, 2017 Lady Shockley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utterly delightful and deliciously dark, as only an Aiken book can be. Even the brat Dido Twite turns out to be a surprisingly capable hand while capturing a ship. A wonderful, adventurous trip through an alternate past.
Apr 20, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Late summer, 1833. The second in Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles opens with Simon, the orphan who helped cousins Sylvia and Bonnie Green to regain Willoughby Chase, looking for his friend Gabriel Field in London: Dr Field has offered him space in his Southwark lodgings so that Simon can attend an art academy in Chelsea. But Simon is encountering difficulty finding Rose Alley, having been misdirected a few times. When he does eventually find No 8 it is to discover no sign of the good doctor, only ...more
I read this book as a child, and it stuck with me for years. I'd forgotten the title & author, but I recently managed to track it down and bought a copy of my familiar 1987 edition on eBay.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to re-read it, and once again I was swept away to historic Chelsea to follow Simon's adventure. One of the things (besides the 20 years of fading memory) that made it difficult for me to remember much from my first read is that the story is extremely lively and a lot happen
Rebecca Allen
I read this at around age nine and I fell in love with Dido. I loved this book. As an adult I spent years searching for it. I did not know it was part of the "Wolves " series or that it was written by Joan Aiken. All I remembered was the title and no one I asked ever knew what I was talking about. After the advent of the Internet and search engines I had pretty much forgotten all about it and never really did a devoted search online.
One day recently I was in the books for sale section of the lib
I love these books. It's hard to explain, because they are so very weird: the language is old-fashioned, plausibility is left at the door, coincidence abounds. I mean, it even has the old "orphan kid is really a great person, even though very disadvantaged in upbringing, but oh wow it turns out he's really a duke" trope - twice! I usually hate that, but I don't get an overwhelmig feeling of classism from Aiken. I mean, her very best character - Dido! - is a poor child, and though many of the vil ...more
Saccharine Dickens. Which is not such an awful thing. At times it's very enjoyable, though you'd never mistake it for the real thing. A good read, but Black Hearts just doesn't stack up to Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Yes, the plot is thicker than Wolves, and so is the dialect/archaic British English, but this book's best character Dido goes missing when she should've been taking over the plot. Simon is a fine protagonist, and yet he's just a little too milquetoast compared to his her
BBC Afternoon Drama

y Joan Aiken, dramatised by Lin Coghlan

Part One (of two)

A dramatisation of Joan Aiken's classic children's adventure. Young Simon comes to 18th century London to study painting - and finds himself caught up in wicked Hanoverian plots to overthrow the king.

Part Two (of two)

To save the King from Hanoverian plotters Simon and Sophie must first suffer shipwreck, attacks by wolves and a narrow escape from an exploding castle in hot air balloon.
Harini Srinivasan
This is the best book in the Wolves series. Enter the unlikeliest, and the most lovable, heroine ever -- one whose adventures you'll want to follow right till the last book!
Jun 03, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent alternative reality period romp in the inimitabe style of Joan Aiken. Great stuff but didn't quite enchant me the way The Wolves of Willoughby Chase did. I wanted Simon to stay Simon.
Mar 21, 2017 Cassiejoan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fiction, classic
It took me a ridiculously long time to read this short book, but I guess I should be thankful that I am sleeping better and so not reading as much during the night:) Some of the plot was lost on me as it was my "middle of the night" book and I since I am sleeping better, I was pretty sleepy when reading. It was a fun read and one that the kids may enjoy later one but definitely not as good as the first of the series. I probably won't keep reading these books now but would recommend them to the k ...more
May 12, 2017 Janis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book has a great plot and interesting characters. I found the dialogue to be annoying.
Vishaka Rajan
Mar 01, 2017 Vishaka Rajan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like its predecessor, this novel is fun and quirky. There are loads of things that are simplified or incredibly unbelievable but they are presented in such a fun way that you really don't mind. Or at least, I don't. I liked that this novel featured Simon; he was an interesting character in the previous novel, and this one allowed me to get a better glimpse of him. There were times when I wish the author had given a bit more detail; I'll admit that I was confused when the character of Sophie was ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
In this installment of the Wolves Chronicles we learn a bit more about Simon's past, and Dido Twite makes her first bow. You really can read each book on its own, which is refreshing; Aiken gives you just enough backstory without repeating huge chunks of previous books.

Simon goes to London to learn to paint, but Dr Field has vanished and no one seems to know anything about him. Conspiracy against the King and more particularly the Duke of Battersea is rife, and Simon combines his studies and pa
Young Simon comes to London at the invitation of his old mentor, but when he arrives his mentor is nowhere to be found. What Simon finds instead is a wicked plot to overthrow King James, and only his wits and unlikely friends can help him save the dayand himself. Black Hearts in Battersea is thoroughly predictable, but not as such bad. It's one part rollicking adventure and one part heavy-handed foreshadowing, and while the latter strips all suspense from the former, it doesn't sap its energy. I ...more
Jun 21, 2013 Jaina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blogged
This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

I've loved Joan Aiken's Wolves chronicles for almost as long as I can remember. I literally harassed my parents into getting a library card for a whole different library system than our usual one just because I desperately wanted to re-read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and our system didn't have it. That will always be one of my favorite childhood books - I can't even remember the first time I read it! When I found out, at about age ten,
duniamimpigie Anggi
Serunya tuh pas di tengah-tengah aja.
Pas di depan terlalu datar untuk selera saya, padahal ada satu tokoh penting yang sejak awal menghilang tanpa jejak, tapi tokoh utama kita cuma menjalani kehidupannya biasa-biasa aja--gak panik dan gak getol nyari tahu apa yang terjadi pada tokoh yang hilang itu (atau ini hanya anggapan saya pribadi aja).
Bagian akhirnya itu... tensinya udah mulai menurun setelah rombongan Inchmore (Simon, Justin, Mrs. Buckle dan Dr. Field) berhasil mengecoh para pelaut di Da
Sylvia Kelso
I found this book a good deal better than the first in the series. I was more accustomed to Aiken's airy disregard of plausibility and practicality(eg. minor details like, when a hired sleigh pulls up at door pursued by wolves and all the passengers rush inside, what happens to the sleigh and horses? Never mentioned again?)and the stage was definitely enlivened by the first appearance of Dido Twite, who becomes the long-running overall protagonist of the series. Apart from her invincibly buoyant ...more
Jan 07, 2008 nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 7up, aiken, orphans
Fantastic. I think Dr. Furnace ("Furrneaux, if you please, Furrneaux -- I cannot endure the English pronunciation.") was my favorite character. Then Dido Twite. But everyone's so great, and unique, and funny, and the dialects are fantastic, and I pretty much never have any idea what Dido is saying ("Pooh, what a capsy, weevilly fortune"), but I like it that way.

One of my favorite parts, a short history and description of Battersea Castle:
He paused a moment, gazing in awe at the huge mass of buil
Mar 17, 2013 Gale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
“Too Many Villains and Coincidences”

Billed as the 2nd in the WOLVES chronicles this book proves a disappointment after the delightful WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE—at least to an adult reviewer. Kids will enjoy it though, for it offers plenty of action, evil plotters lurking behind every other page, spunky heroines and a determined hero. But there is too much coincidence involving related families and mistaken identities to be realistic for a mature audience to swallow. But middle school kids wil
Books Kids Like
While Simon was in London with Bonnie and Sylvia (see Wolves of Willoughby Chase), he met Dr. Field who promised to secure Simon a place at the Riviere Art Academy. Unfortunately, when Simon returns to London, the doctor has disappeared. His landlords, the Twites, deny any knowledge of a Dr. Field, but Simon sees his friend's artistic style in a sketch on Dido Twite’s wall. Then, Simon discovers an arsenal in the Twite's basement and overhears treasonous talk about Hanoverians and Picts. He find ...more
Jan 29, 2014 Paris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken follows the story of a young orphaned boy named simon who moves to London to study art after being invited there by an old friend. After reading this first descriptive sentence many have probably already begun doubting their interest in this book, for it already seems like a cliche adventure story where the protagonist is an orphan merely to give them a tragic back story and/or have an excuse to not write in parents. This orphan trope is so overused and co ...more
Kate Russell
Jul 05, 2015 Kate Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
l loved this book. It's a rollicking adventure story set in an alternative 1830's England, with villainous villains, brave heroes and heroines, mystery and lots of humour. As this is book 2 of Joan Aiken's wolf chronicles, I will be scouring bookshops for the rest of the series. It's up there now with some of my favourite books from childhood - The Borrowers series, 'Smith' by Leon Garfield (or anything by Leon Garfield), the Narnia series, 'The Ghosts' by Antonia Barber, the Flambards series by ...more
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Joan Aiken was a much loved English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. Her most famous classic, THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE has been in print for over 50 years with a new AUDIO recorded by her daughter Lizza. She was known as a writer of wild fantasy, Gothic novels and unforgettable short stories.
NEW COLLECTION 2016 - The People in The Castle https://www.goodread
More about Joan Aiken...

Other Books in the Series

The Wolves Chronicles (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles, #1)
  • Nightbirds on Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles, #3)
  • The Stolen Lake (The Wolves Chronicles, #4)
  • Dangerous Games (The Wolves Chronicles, #5)
  • The Cuckoo Tree (The Wolves Chronicles, #6)
  • Dido and Pa (The Wolves Chronicles, #7)
  • Is Underground (The Wolves Chronicles, #8)
  • Cold Shoulder Road (The Wolves Chronicles, #9)
  • Midwinter Nightingale (The Wolves Chronicles, #10)
  • The Witch of Clatteringshaws (The Wolves Chronicles, #11)

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“He paused a moment, gazing in awe at the huge mass of buildings composing the castle. It stood close to the river, on either side and to the rear stretched the extensive park and gardens, filled with splendid trees, fountains and beds of brilliant flowers in shades of pink, crimson, and scarlet. The castle itself was built of pink granite, and enclosed completely a smaller, older building which the present Duke's father had considered too insignificant for his town residence. The new castle had taken forty years to build; three architects and hundreds of men had worked day and night, and the old Duke had personally selected every block of sunset-colored stone that went to its construction. 'I want it to look like a great half-open rose,' he declared to the architects, who were fired with enthusiasm by this romantic fancy. It was begun as a wedding present to the Duke's wife, whose name was Rosamond, but unfortunately she died some nine years before it was completed. 'never mind, it will do for her memorial instead,' said the grief-stricken but practical widower. The work went on. At last the final block was laid in place. The Duke, by now very old, went out in his barouche and drove slowly along the opposite riverbank to consider the effect. He paused midway for a long time, then gave his opinion. 'It looks like a cod cutlet covered in shrimp sauce,' he said, drove home, took to his bed, and died.” 7 likes
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