Joan Aiken

Few Wordcandy authors are as uneven as Joan Aiken--but then few authors are as prolific or as ambitious, so we have to forgive the occasional bomb. Joan Aiken wrote over a hundred books, tackling dozens of different genres, time periods, and intended audiences. Like the nursery rhyme, when Aiken was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid. She is best known for the Lewis Carroll Award-winning alternate history YA novel The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and its sequels, which include the excellent Black Hearts in Battersea and Night Birds on Nantucket.

Aiken also wrote some very respectable Regency romances, most notably The Five Minute Marriage, which reads like a fair-to-middling Georgette Heyer novel, and several Jane Austen continuations. Some of these are very well done (Jane Fairfax and Mansfield Revisited) and some aren't (all the rest).

Note: There is reportedly a 1989 British film version of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. While I have never seen it, it apparently starred Jane Horrocks (Bubbles from Absolutely Fabulous). If anyone knows where I could find a copy, please let me know.

Note #2: In a happy match of artistic sensibilities, much of the cover art for the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series was done by the late, great Edward Gorey.

Several novels in the Willoughby Chase series are extremely irritating--unevenly paced and distressingly short.

You can purchase most of the Willoughby Chase books anywhere, but her other titles are only to be found in libraries and used bookstores.

Other Recommendations:
Sorcery and Cecelia, by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede

Nine Coaches Waiting, by Mary Stewart

Anything by Edward Gorey

Anything by Susanna Clarke

The Gregor the Overlander books, by Suzanne Collins

The Gormenghast trilogy, by Mervyn Peake

Anything by Edward Gorey

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Posted by: Julia


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