Caitlin's Reviews > The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
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Sep 05, 09

bookshelves: 2009
Read in September, 2009

This is one of my all-time favorite books. I have vivid memories of reading it as a little girl & loving it. I remember reading it several times & I remember that I could never remember the author, but I could remember where the book was in the library. I can see it in my mind's eye today - just enter through the children's entrance of the old Main Public Library building in Memphis & make a left turn; walk along the stacks & you'll find it in the second or third stack over. Memphis got a new public library building back in 2001 & I don't know what happened to the building at McLean & Peabody, but it was the first library that I really knew. My mother was Coordinator of Children's Services there when I was a kid & the Children's Room was like a second home for me. I read lots of great books out of that library - fairy tales & Judy Blume & Roald Dahl & so many others. Still, this book has stuck with me & I was glad to read it again.

This book has everything you could want in a gothic children's tale: an evil governess, evil servants, a shipwreck, two daring (& competent - love that word) girl cousins, a trek across England to Smithfield Market with a adventuresome goose boy, an exploitative orphanage with a wicked headmistress & her equally wicked daughter, & wolves - lots of hungry wolves! A lot happens in the 181 pages of this book with cover illustration by Edward Gorey.

This is a wonderful, rich story filled with secret passages & evil doings & drastic happenings. Bonnie & her cousin, Sylvia, must rescue themselves from the orphanage & school where they are banished by the evil Miss Slighcarp, a governess who steals Willoughby Chase & all the estate's money after Bonnie's parents are shipwrecked. The tale of their adventures is inspiring & fun & downright perfect. Recommended for ages 12 & up, although I was much younger the first time I read it. Find a kid & read it with them today!
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