Joan Aiken

Hello, friends. Well, I didn’t with the Arthur Ellis Award last week. That honour went to Shane Peacock for Becoming Holmes, the final book in his series, the Boy Sherlock Holmes, and he accepted the prize very graciously. All was not lost, however! Someone pointed out that there was no name engraved on the trophy, and we hatched a plan to rush Shane in the car park and, er, relieve him of his burden. Sad to say, we were all so distracted by wine and chatter – and the fact that there was no car park – that Shane eluded us, not unlike his sleuth. And thus ended the Night of the Peacock.

However! After my friend Sarah lent me a copy of Joan Aiken’s The Stolen Lake for the journey home, I’ve become utterly enamoured of her books, once again (re-enamoured? Somehow, that’s kind of deflating). Mine was an Aikenless childhood, and I’m so sorry for that. I love Aiken’s bold alternative history, the narrative pace she sets, which is both sweeping and unhurried, and her brave, shrewd heroine, Dido Twite. And after poking around the official Joan Aiken website, I’m beyond excited to learn that Edward Gorey designed some of her book covers!

We already have a book storage problem. For a while, I had a very strict one-in-one-out policy, before it lapsed and the books began, once again, to pile up on the back of the piano. I was thinking of starting it up again. But I think an exception must definitely be made for the Gorey covers of the Wolves Chronicles. And I’d better hurry. My children will soon be ready for chapterbooks, and I’m determined that Joan Aiken will be part of their childhoods.

Have you read Joan Aiken? Are you one of the lucky fans who first read her in childhood?

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5 Responses to “Joan Aiken”

  1. Ooh, have you read her short story collection The Serial Garden? I absolutely adore it and can’t wait to read it out loud to my son in just another year or two. (I’m an on-and-off Aiken fan and have been since childhood – some of her books just don’t click for me even when I think they should, but I LOVE her short stories.)

  2. Ying says:

    I haven’t, Steph, but I’m sure to do so now! I didn’t discover Joan Aiken until a few years ago and I so regret that. Thanks so much for the rec. Is MrD into chapter books yet? (I assume so, if he’s dictating his own!)

  3. He is! He looooves Hilary McKay’s Lulu books and Steve Cole’s Astrosaurs books. (Very different series, but they both work perfectly for him!)

  4. Steph Weller says:

    Did you also know there’s now a stage adaptation of The Wolves of Willougby Chase (

    The amateur rights are now available – my theatre is doing it in January 2014. Very excited!

  5. Ying says:

    How wonderful, Steph. Break a leg!

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