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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles #1)

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4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,256 Ratings  ·  821 Reviews
Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie's parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It see ...more
Hardcover, 181 pages
Published November 14th 2000 by Delacorte Press (first published 1962)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mariel
Dec 04, 2010 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: angels with even filthier souls
Recommended to Mariel by: angels with filthy souls
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is best read when young, or by those with the ability to tap into their inner girl.

I enjoyed the evil impostors who gleefully inflict child abuse. 'Wolves' is best read by kids who love to feel a bit of self-pity and delicious horror.
Bonnie is a bit of a simpering thing and there are lots of mentions of dresses and lace. I didn't care about that. My eyes tend to glaze over fripperies in real life too. (It feels like I'm the only person alive who doesn't notice if s
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Stacey (prettybooks)
This post is part of the 2015 Classics Challenge.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I actually don't think I had heard of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase until I discovered the Vintage Children's Classics, my favourite series of children's classics – I just love the design and the selection of well-known and lesser-known classics! I bought I Capture the Castle in 2012 followed by The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Dark is Rising, Fly Away Home and Charlotte Sometimes in 2013.

WHY I Chose to Read It
It
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Willow
Jan 22, 2016 Willow rated it really liked it
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a lovely little children’s book with secret passages, an evil governess and a goose boy. I definitely recommend it to little girls who have a mind for adventure. I myself had a little trouble at first getting into it, simply because I’m just not the audience for this. But eventually the adventure took over and I wanted to find out what happens.

There’s a weird wackiness in the beginning, which made me chuckle. Wolves jump up and attack the windows on a train. Bo
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Margaret
Jul 30, 2008 Margaret rated it it was amazing
"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 together in groups for fear of the wolves, made savage and reckless from hunger..."
I dare you not to go on reading after that.
I read this book over and over as a
...more
W.B.
Jul 17, 2008 W.B. rated it it was amazing
This is terrible but wonderful.

It's really a book that was published for young adults or kids, but published in 1962 so the idea of what constitutes entertaining literature for youngsters is really rather dated.

I think the author was more influenced by Edward Gorey and his odd, brilliant little books than she was by some of the other palpable influences, like Dickens and other masters of "waif literature."

It's the story of a rich little "waif" (so not a true waif, but she fits the archetypal mol
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Leslie
Apr 27, 2016 Leslie added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellyddan
Apr 16, 2008 Ellyddan rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I read this book thinking, "I wish this had been around when I was younger..." Well, this is a foolish thought because the books were around when I was a child, and have been around for awhile.
Any books for children that feature a mixture of Georgian/Victorian society, a dash of wolves, loads of adventure, and little girls learning to stand on their own two solid feet has my love. I love that Bonnie is not only a plucky young girl, but also handy with a rifle (good against wolves!).
This story
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Cheryl
Jul 21, 2016 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Children's fiction with a Victorian London setting. The story uses elements of classic Victorian fiction. The influence of Charles Dickens, Sheridan leFanu, Wilkie Collins, and the Sensation novelists of that time can be seen here. Lots of action and adventure, featuring two brave little girls who save the day. A fun read for all ages.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Aug 19, 2016 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I am not one to read juvenile novels and have never understood the current enthusiasm for them among adult readers. But I read a book of Aiken's short stories and was curious about this classic series.

Her writing is impeccable, but the strangeness of the opening section gives way to a story best enjoyed by ten-year-old girls.
Diane Lynn
Sep 02, 2014 Diane Lynn rated it it was amazing
Buddy read with Jeannette and Willow

Opening lines:

It was dusk-winter dusk. Snow lay white and shining over the pleated hills, and icicles hung from the forest trees.

I was hooked from the start. Two young girls go on quite an adventure when their situation goes from bad to worse. The girls are very resourceful and brave. They are helped by some very nice people, but then there are all those villains! Will the girls ever be able to escape the many wolves of Willoughby Chase?

I thought this was a ve
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Ellie
Apr 02, 2016 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, childrens
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is something I remember from my childhood but I was never quite sure if I had actually read it before. Had it been read to me? Or had I merely conflagrated the adaptation with the book? Who knows, but I did thoroughly enjoy reading it as last month’s classic.

First published in 1962, it was originally intended as a bit of a spoof of the gothic Victorian adventures Joan Aiken read as a child. Knowing this makes me like it even more. It’s loads of fun, with adventure,
...more
Carol Storm
Aug 03, 2011 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing
Bonnie and Sylvia -- two little girls on a roller-coaster into the unknown!

This is one of those magical books that seems to be written for children, but is equally captivating for adults. There's just something about the dream-like setting, the dark, ironic humor, the warmly romantic friendship of the two girls, that makes you feel this is really a dream you're having as an adult of what childhood could have been like, scary and beautiful and fascinating, instead of being like most childhoods, s
...more
Arielle Walker
3.5, I think - only because I thought I remembered loving this as a child (and I may well have) but after re-reading I still didn't recall a thing from the actual story - I think the Dido books later in the series were the ones that really captured my love. Actually I'm not even sure if I ever did read this! Still a really great childrens' story, I just personally did not adore it as much as I expected... Can't wait to find the Dido ones again!
Ashlee Willis
Jun 18, 2015 Ashlee Willis rated it it was amazing
I grew up reading Joan Aiken. I discovered the Wolves Chronicles at my local library when I was about 8 or 9 and, though the series itself was already over 30 years old, I instantly fell in love with Aiken's cast of quirky characters and her wildly imaginative style. These books will be a part of me all my life, and I plan on reading them over and over.
Linda
Jun 17, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing
I love this book. The start of a great series.

So I've picked this for my staff pick on heroes and I want to say that as far as heroes go "It takes a Village" because our two girls--Bonnie & Sylvia--get help in getting away from the baddies in the story (and there are lots of baddies) from all sides.

Starting back at Willoughby Chase with the servants who either hide (Pattern) from the evil guardian Miss Slighcarp when she fires all the staff or pretend to be evil (James) to be kept on.

Then
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PEI Public Library Service
Sep 14, 2012 PEI Public Library Service rated it it was amazing
If a voracious young reader (Grades 4-6) requested a funny, gothic adventure and didn't mind that it was published 1963, I would recommend Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Sylvia, a very well brought up young lady, travels through an alternate Victorian England, on way to a new home with her wealthy cousin, Bonnie Green of Willoughby Chase. The train is attacked by wolves, not unusual, but very frightening to Sylvia. On Sylvia's arrival, she learns that Bonnie's parents are leaving i
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Margaret
Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles are wildly inventive fantasies, set in an alternate England where the Stuarts remained on the throne, making the Hanoverians the rebels and conspirators, and where wolves still roam even in London. There are eleven of them in all (and won't be any more, since Aiken sadly died in January 2004), and I think of them in sets of two or three.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Black Hearts in Battersea introduce many of the main characters in the series, chiefly Simon, a
...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Four stars because I think this is my favourite of the Wolves books now, in spite of the lack of real content. I don't know who decided that The Whispering Mountain was "Wolves 0", since it was written six years after this one, but then this is one of those wonderful (older) series in which each book can indeed be read as a standalone novel. For years I read and re-readNightbirds on Nantucket without even knowing there were more.

We're never actually told how old genteel-povertystricken Sophie a
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Mimi
Oct 05, 2015 Mimi rated it liked it
I expected Julie of the Wolvesbut instead found a delightfully odd and, like a dear friend pointed out, difficult to pinpoint in time story of dreadful governesses, helpful goose boys, dastardly plans, and escape from being banished to the workhouse. All in all a good read.
Geeta
Aug 23, 2007 Geeta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readagain
For a while, I re-read this book once every summer, during the hottest, most humid months. I'm not sure how to categorize it, beyond children's book. I think the series as a whole appealed to me as a child because of the adventure and the strong female characters, especially Dido Twite, who does not appear until the next book.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 21, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of gothic adventure
One of those stories where things get worse and worse and worse for the heroines - parents lost at sea, presumed dead; the new servants are revealed as evil schemers, and there is no where they can turn! How can they ever escape this horrible fate? Illustrated by Edward Gorey, to wonderful effect.
Celeste Ng
Jun 16, 2007 Celeste Ng rated it really liked it
Everything a little girl wants in a book: a wicked governess, a best friend, forced poverty, a rescue, and a crushworthy literary character. This is the first book in the Wolves Chronicles, and although it's probably the weakest (and the least tied to the series) it's still worth a read.
First Second Books
This book has it all – kidnapping, secret passages, shipwrecks, orphans, violent death, fraud, a stolen inheritance, and best of all – wolves!
Simon Aldous
Jan 15, 2013 Simon Aldous rated it it was amazing
Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a gripping tale involving two girls, Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia, who are left in the hands of their governess Miss Slighcarp while Bonnie's parents go away on a restorative sea cruise.

In fact, Miss Slighcarp has fixed for the parents to travel on an unseaworthy ship, which soon sinks, while she rewrites their will in her favour, and dispatches the girls to a boarding-school-cum-workhouse, run by the evil Mrs Brisket.

Slighcarp and Brisket make two marvellous vill
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else fine
Jul 19, 2011 else fine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, read2011, bestof2011
Though this book kicks off a much longer series, it can be read as a satisfying stand-alone novel, which is, in itself, sort of refreshing these days. It's a perfectly child-sized epic, hitting on all the nebulous things that scare kids the most - unreliable and possibly hostile adults, injustice, abandonment, and, of course, ravenous and impossibly crafty packs of wolves - as well as all the little details that make a story really and truly alive for young readers. I remember as a child being m ...more
Tracey
Dec 19, 2007 Tracey rated it it was ok
Shelves: libraryread
I checked this out based on delphica's recent recommendation & its appearance on Locus' Greatest Young Adult Fantasy/Science Fiction list.

Written in 1962, the story hearkens back to the turn of the nineteenth century, being the adventures of two girls: wealthy tomboy Bonnie, and her poor, sickly orphan cousin, Sylvia who comes to Willoughby Chase to stay with Bonnie and her family. However, Sir Willoughby and his wife are about to travel abroad in the hopes of improving his wife's health. Th
...more
Biscuit
Published in 1962 this novel highlights how far literacy expectations have fallen in children's literature. The standard of language used was a delight to encounter although the juxtaposition of complicated language with a kids adventure romp was a jarring obstacle for my underdeveloped modern brain to overcome before it would allow me to sit back and enjoy the tale.

Riches to rags and back again, with wolves, evil governesses, orphanages, geese, country and city, policemen, shipwrecks, daring es
...more
Joan
Jan 29, 2015 Joan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
I remember this very fondly from my childhood. The first several books of this series, before it became dragging on and on, were childhood favorites. I liked Black Hearts, the sequel, better than this one since it had more historical aspects to it.
Ann
This was one of my favorite books when I was 12 or 13 - it always reminds me so much of Jane Eyre, and I'm not sure if it's just because of similarities in the story or because I read them at the same time - probably both. I remember being completely intrigued by the idea of using a frozen river for travel; it's an image that has stuck with me for many years - to escape via frozen water. This book has everything appealing to the gothic-minded young girl - hidden passage-ways, thwarted notes for ...more
Flora
Sep 17, 2015 Flora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidlit
I wish I had read this when I was a child. It's exactly the kind of old fashioned adventure story that I loved (and still do love).

Reading it with older eyes I do see allusions to Victorian stories such as The Runaway that Aiken was supposedly spoofing. The irrepressible Bonnie is the spit of Olga, for example.

I found the whole thing charming. And that image of the snowbound train, wolves howling in the night, will stay with me for a long time.
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Classic Trash: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase: Finished (Spoilers) 4 5 Jul 21, 2016 05:37PM  
Classic Trash: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase: In Progress (No Spoilers) 10 4 Jul 21, 2016 02:59PM  
Bookish Links 5 29 Feb 28, 2014 08:18AM  
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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
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More about Joan Aiken...

Other Books in the Series

The Wolves Chronicles (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2)
  • 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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“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 together in groups for fear of the wolves, grown savage and reckless from hunger.” 3 likes
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