Books

Eliza's Daughter

Joan Aiken

Seduced and abandoned by the faithless Willoughby, Colonel Brandon’s much-loved ward Eliza is sent to give birth in the countryside. But what becomes of her, and her daughter, the young Eliza?

Joan Aiken's sequel to Sense and Sensibility takes up the stories of Elinor and Marianne, but introduces a dashing new heroine who despite being a 'by-blow' and outcast, uses her wits and talents to find her own way in the world. This is a darker side of Regency society where a young girl who cannot marry for money must find a career, and brave the realities of the Napoleonic wars in Portugal.

The Whispering Mountain (Prequel to the Wolves Chronicles series)

Joan Aiken

Prize winning WOLVES CHRONICLES PREQUEL reissued in A Puffin Book - All 12 Wolves books now in print for the first time ever.

In THE WHISPERING MOUNTAIN by Joan Aiken, the small town of Pennygaff, the legendary Harp of Teirtu is found - and lost again. For young Owen Hughes and his friend Arabis, it is the start of a hair-raising race to save the harp from sinister Lord Malyn. As they struggle to keep it out of his hands, they are plunged into a wild adventure involving murder, kidnapping, underground worlds, savage beasts, floods, avalanche, the mysterious children of the Pit - and above all, a man who will stop at nothing to get the harp back again.
Winner of the 1969 Guardian Fiction Award.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Joan Aiken

In a period of English History that never happened, when Good King James III is on the throne, and the whole country is ravaged by wolves which have migrated through the newly-opened Channel Tunnel. When orphans Bonnie and Sylvia fall into the hands of evil Miss Slighcarp, they need all their wits - and the help of Simon the goose-boy - to escape unscathed, for the governess is more cruel and merciless than the wolves that surround the great house of Willoughby Chase.

Filled with brilliantly-drawn Dickensian characters, it would make an excellent choice for strong preteen readers who like an old-fashioned story with a strong plot and good characterisation. This book often appears on lists of best-loved children's books.

The Song Of Mat And Ben

Joan Aiken

There is eerie trouble once again in the Cornish village of St Boan, often known as Thunder's Pocket. Some hundred-year-old water pipes are being replaced and the digging has disturbed the ghosts of the past, namely the twins Matthew and Ben Pernel who were killed in mysterious circumstances and their musician father blamed. The three are now trying to be reunited but less innocent forces are also at work and the present townspeople are involved as the unhappy incidents of a hundred years ago are relived. Aunt Lal calls on her nephew Ned to help. She believes only he can bring the Pernels together again and thus truly bury the past. But even Ned is not immune to the horrors of the disturbed spirits. A thrilling sequel to In Thunder's Pocket by this prestigious author.

Mansfield Revisited

Joan Aiken

After the sad demise of Sir Thomas, Edmund Bertram and his new wife Fanny must sail to the West Indies in order to oversee the family’s affairs.

Back at Mansfield Park, Fanny’s younger sister Susan is left at the helm. The household faces disarray, and she must guide the estate through gossip and grievances. Yet the news of Henry and Mary Crawford’s return to Mansfield heralds the greatest storm yet. With the arrival of this dangerous pair, romance is once more in the air, and hearts are set to be broken . . .

Featuring a cast of characters from Jane Austen's classic, including Susan Price, Thomas Bertram, Lady Bertram, Julia Yates and, of course, the infamous Crawford siblings.

A Foot in the Grave

Jan Pienkowski (and others)

When Jan Pienkowski began a haunting series of paintings and asked Joan Aiken to compose accompanying ghostly stories, the result was bound to be an exceptional book.

Here are tales of ghostly revenge, tales to scare and amuse, peopled with malevolent spirits and mysterious heroes. Haunting happenings and peculiar twists shape these stories; the unexplained and unearthly goings-on add up to an extraordinary and eerie experience.

Go Saddle The Sea

Joan Aiken

Despised by his Spanish relatives and ignored by his distant grandfather, twelve-year-old orphan Felix Brooke is lonely and unhappy. So when he's given a parcel with a blood-stained letter from his dead father, it inspires him to track down his long-lost English family. Felix packs his bag, jumps on his trusty mule and heads for the coast and a new life. But his journey across the mountains and over the sea does not prove to be plain sailing - as Felix soon discovers . . .

The Teeth Of The Gale

Joan Aiken

"Don Francisco wants you home, and in double-quick time, too. We must leave tomorrow at dawn . . ."

Felix's heart sinks at Pedro's words. What can be wrong? Is his beloved grandfather ill? Dashing and loyal, he speeds towards Villaverde - and a rescue mission.

Donna Conchita's children are kidnapped and Felix may be reunited with the feisty Juana, if he agrees to help. Despite warnings of a conspiracy and his own suspicions of a trap, Felix fearlessly plunges into a plot thick with intrigue and danger. His grandfather said it was a matter of life and death - but whose?

Bridle The Wind

Joan Aiken

Packed-off to boarding school and bullied by his peers, Felix feels sad and trapped. Although he has a home in England, his heart lies in Spain - so he runs away. But Felix's journey is cut short when his ship is caught in a storm off the French coast. Despite being shipwrecked and then held prisoner in a remote monastery, Felix's spirit is far from broken - and he needs all the strength he can muster to battle against the demonic Abbot Vespasian and his evil powers . . .

Lady Catherine's Necklace

Joan Aiken

Joan Aiken picks up the pen of her forerunner, Jane Austen, in this charming sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy have finally found matrimonial bliss, and now our attention turns to Rosings Park, the estate of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh. When an unfortunate carriage accident means that siblings Ralph and Priscilla Delaval must reside with Lady Catherine, the stage is set for a scandal. Life in the sleepy Kent village is turned upside down by a series of unexpected events, and dark family secrets are finally brought to light . . .

Featuring a cast of characters from Austen’s classic, including Anne de Bourgh, Elizabeth's friend Charlotte Collins (née Lucas), Colonel Fitzwilliam and, of course, the redoubtable Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Black Hearts in Battersea

Joan Aiken

‘Wait, wait! Save us! What’ll we do?’

Simon is determined to become a painter when he grows up so he sets off to London to make his fortune. But the city is plagued by wolves and mysterious disappearances. The Twite household, where Simon is lodging, seems particularly shifty. Before he even gets a chance to open his glistening new paints Simon stumbles right into the centre of a plot to kill the King. And worse than that Simon is kidnapped and sent to sea! Luckily there are two friendly stowaways aboard – the feisty Dido Twite and the spoiled young Justin. But when the ship catches fire things look pretty dire. Can they escape? Will they save the king in time?

BACKSTORY: Test your knowledge of Black Hearts in Battersea and play the name game.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Joan Aiken

Can you go a little faster? Can you run?

Long ago, at a time in history that never happened, England was overrun with wolves. But as Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia discover, real danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, doesn't seem at all nice. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants and sends the cousins far away from Willoughby Chase to a place they will never be found. Can Bonnie and Sylvia outwit the wicked Miss Slighcarp and her network of criminals, forgers and snitches?

BACKSTORY: Find out a few things you didn't know about wolves and learn all about the wonderful world of the author.

Bone And Dream : A St. Boan Mystery

Joan Aiken

In this third St Boan mystery, Ned is summoned once again by his Aunt Lal to help the famous but cantankerous poet, Sir Thomas Menhenitt. In confronting the poet's problems, Ned rescues Sir Tom's granddaughter, Jonquil from a bizarre and highly dangerous situation.

Is

Joan Aiken

Dido's sister, Is, travels north to try and find her lost cousin. But instead of the promised Playland, she discovers an underground kingdom where children work as slaves in the worst conditions imaginable - under the rule of the sinister Gold Kingy. . .

Dido And Pa

Joan Aiken

Dido Twite is waylaid by her father, the shady Abednego Twite, acting on instructions from his evil patron. Why is Dido so urgently needed in Wapping? Why are King Richard's friends all accidentally drowning in the Thames? How does hard-drinking Mrs Lily Bloodvessel figure in this intricate plot, with her cellar full of sleeping guttersnipes?

Another rollercoasting story by Joan Aiken, in which Dido's scheming Pa finally receives his comeuppance.

Cold Shoulder Road

Joan Aiken

Arun returns to his mother's house on Cold Shoulder Road, only to find it deserted and flood-ravaged. Some say she's run off with a Silent Sect, other whisper that she's a witch, and Mrs Boles mutters fearfully about the Emjee and the Handsel child, but dares say no more. With the help of his indomitable cousin, Is Twite, Arun sets off in search of Admiral Fishkin - their only key to discovering the real truth, whatever it may be...

The Witch of Clatteringshaws

Joan Aiken

‘It’s a rotten old job being King!’ says Dido Twite. Her friend King Simon agrees – his scheming courtiers want to marry him off to a pushy princess, and he has to lead his army against a tribe of invading Wends.

Their only hope is to find a long-lost heir to take Simon’s place on the throne of England, with the help of failed witch Malise and her prophesying parrot.

The last book in the series that first introduced Simon as the hero of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a helter-skelter of battles, vicious villains and mysterious monsters, packed full of magic and humour. If you don’t know the Wolves Chronicles, this gives a wonderful taste of Joan Aiken’s fantastic world – and you still have all the rest to discover!

A Necklace Of Raindrops

Joan Aiken (and others)

"This is how it all began..." From 'A Necklace of Raindrops' to 'The Patchwork Quilt', here are eight classic stories to treasure and enjoy. Beginning and ending with a birthday, this spell-binding collection conjures up a world filled with magic, where wishes can come true. A necklace of raindrops that keeps its owner dry in the heaviest rainstorm; a tiger that runs faster than the wind; a huge floating apple pie with a piece of sky in it; a baker's cat who swells to the size of a whale when his mistress feeds him yeast; a house that stands on one leg - these are just some of the objects and characters that figure in these delightful stories.

Midwinter Nightingale

Joan Aiken

King Richard, son of James III lies gravely ill and there are rumours that the king's enemy, the Duchess of Burgundy, is preparing an imminent invasion. The ancient crown of Alfred must be found so King Richard can pass it on to his successor. Is Simon, Duke of Battersea and friend of the king, next in line to the throne or will the evil werewolf Baron Magnus Rudh succeed in his plot to make his son, Lot, king? To add further complications, Dido Twite, held prisoner by the Baron and the Duchess, does not know the whereabouts of either Simon or the dying king: can she escape in time to find and warn them of the treachery afoot? This adventure with a truly galloping plot and breath-taking situations will delight all fans of Joan Aiken's books

The Stolen Lake

Joan Aiken

Dido Twite, heroine of Black Hearts in Battersea and Nightbirds on Nantucket, is on her wildest adventure yet. On her way back to London aboard the Thrush, Dido and crew are summoned to the aid of the tyrannical queen of New Cumbria. Her island is an infernal place where birds carry off men and fish eat human flesh. The queen is greatly distressed because a neighbouring king has stolen her lake. Dido faces fire, flood, wild beasts and, ultimately, threat of execution in order to get the lake back. Is she equal to the challenge?

A rich mixture of legend, fantasy, humour and pure snowballing adventure.

Biography

Joan Aiken was born in Sussex in 1924. She was the daughter of the American poet, Conrad Aiken; her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge, is also a novelist. Before joining the 'family business' herself, Joan had a variety of jobs, including working for the BBC, the United Nations Information Centre and then as features editor for a short story magazine. Her first children's novel, The Kingdom of the Cave, was published in 1960.

Joan Aiken wrote over a hundred books for young readers and adults and is recognized as one of the classic authors of the twentieth century. Amanda Craig, writing in The Times, said, 'She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew.' Her best-known books are those in the James III saga, of which The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was the first title, published in l962 and awarded the Lewis Carroll prize. Both that and Black Hearts in Battersea have been filmed. Her books are internationally acclaimed and she received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the United States as well as the Guardian Award for Fiction in this country for The Whispering Mountain.

Joan Aiken was decorated with an MBE for her services to children's books. She died in 2004.