Title: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Author: Joan Aiken
Major Themes: England, Mystery Stories
Synopsis: Sylvia must go live with her cousin Bonnie, but when the ship that Bonnie’s parents are on is sunk off the coast of Spain, they are left at the mercy of a wicked governness.
I wouldn’t have chosen The Wolves of Willoughby Chase myself, but since it used to be a part of Sonlight Curriculum, we ended up with it. I just read it aloud to my boys, who were enthralled. We don’t read very many mysteries, so this one is quite different than most books we’ve read.
As the story opens, young Sylvia is on her way by train from London to the estate on which her cousin Bonnie lives. Wolves threaten the train’s occupants. She arrives safely at Willoughby Chase, where she meets Bonnie and her parents. The next day, Bonnie’s parents leave on a trip, hoping to recover Bonnie’s mother’s health, and the two girls are left in the care of Miss Slighcarp, the new governness, who has also just arrived. Within a day, the girls realize that all is not well, and some very strange things are going on. Eventually, the girls are sent off to boarding school with the cruel Mrs. Brisket in charge, and terribly mistreated there. Will they ever be free again? Will justice ever be served to the usurpers?
I enjoyed the names in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase—some are very descriptive of the personalities! This book is one that will capture your attention and make it hard to put down. I was constantly being begged for more and more chapters.
WARNING: Some violence was threatened at times in the book, but never carried through.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12, 10 – 12