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, danger and plenty of funny bits. There’s one bit on the train which really makes me think J.K. Rowling had been inspired by these books too, though turns out the mysterious man isn’t quite as nice as Professor Lupin.
It’s set in an alternate version in 1830’s England, where the channel tunnel was built much earlier and meant Britain became overrun with wolves. These wolves don’t keep to themselves either, and it’s bad news to be out in the countryside after dark.
Bonnie’s mother is sickly and her father, Sir Willoughby, is taking her off on a cruise for health, leaving Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia in the care of their sinister new governess, Miss Slighcarp. As soon as the parents are out the door, things start to change. Bonnie is locked in a cupboard and all the faithful servants are fired. There’s definitely something amiss but can Bonnie and Sylvia save their home?
Amongst the frivolities, there are hints at the poverty and cruelty that once were common place. Sylvia’s mother is struggling to make ends meet when she sends her daughter to Willoughby Hall, although Bonnie is oblivious. They find themselves at the mercy of uncaring staff and fall even further in grace when their world is pulled out from under them.
There are a number of other books in the series, all set in the same alternate history however I’m not sure all the characters are the same in each. I’d definitely give another a try if I was in the mood for a fun and easy read.
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Also reviewed @ Pretty Books
Book Source: Purchased