In The Wolves of Willoughby Chase Sylvia comes to live with her cousin Bonnie just as Bonnie’s parents are leaving on a long trip. The countryside is overrun with wolves that have come to England through a tunnel connecting the island and Europe. But soon, Bonnie and Sylvia discover that the wolves are not the only danger lurking. Their governess, Miss Slighcarp, is making their life incredibly hard for them. When Miss Slighcarp begins threatening everything the cousins hold dear they have to find a way to restore comfort to their home.
Okay, so I admit, I am not very good at summarising this book, but perhaps a list of everything I liked about this book will convince you?
- The story is set at “a time in history that never happened”. Yes, I was intrigued just after reading that one sentence. Better yet, it is an imagined, alternate 19th century setting! and therefore, it has a little of the things I love about period novels, combined with less restricted circumstances for girls, and just a pinch of a fairytale-like feel;
- There are wonderful settings for this story: a great house in the country side that has secret passages, a river that is frozen throughout the winter that allows ice-skating, etcetera. Aiken does a wonderful job at setting the scene and drawing pictures of the landscapes in the reader’s mind;
- The combination of Bonnie and Sylvia’s characters is wonderful. Bonnie is impulsive and daring with a great feeling for injustice while Sylvia is much more subdued but just as smart and sweet. Together they balance each other out and help each other and it’s all just really great;
- Then there’s Simon who lives in the forest and who is just as charming;
- On top of this attention is drawn to differences between a privileged rich family and poorer people. Some of this reminded me a little of Eva Ibbotson, but I think Aiken paints a less negative picture of the rich compared to, say, One Dog and His Boy. On the one hand, this makes The Wolves a little less subversive. On the other hand, I loved how Bonnie, Sylvia and Simon stick up for each other, ponder their difference but never fall out over them;
- There’s adventure and the children get to play a big role in rescuing each other. Yay.
There are two small drawback (though really, they didn’t bother me much while reading). First, there’s the fact that as an adult reader I could see some of the twists and turns of the story coming, as there was perhaps a little bit too much foreshadowing for someone used to these stories. Nevertheless, I think that is an unfair criticism as this is a children’s book. Second, the villains of the book are quite one-dimensional, although they are less so at the beginning of the story. Again, this did not bother me while reading. I feel a little bad for drawing attention to these two things as I really did enjoy this book very much.
For the All-Hallows swap I sent a small package to Joanna, check out her blog post about the swap here.
What spooky/scary/dark/other book are you reading for Halloween?
Other Opinions: Things Mean A Lot, Book Clutter, BookNAround, Need More Shelves, Dogear Diary, A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy, Buried in Print.
Did I miss your post about this book? Let me know and I will add it to the list.