07 May 2010

Black Hearts In Battersea

Hot on the heels of Joan Aiken's The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase comes Black Hearts In Battersea. Simon, the resourceful, heroic young boy from Willoughby Chase was, at the end of the first book, just getting into art. On his way now to London to study painting he, unfortunately, stumbles onto a plot reminiscent of the first book.

Wicked assassins are planning to overthrow King James and the Duke and Duchess of Battersea. A diverse and twisted plot ensues, featuring all the things children are sure to love: more wild wolves, excessive kidnappings, a shipwreck and a range of poisoned pies all make an appearance.

Bonnie and Sylvia have a minor role in the story, but most of it takes place in the company of Simon and Dido Twite, another of those waif-like children Joan Aiken seems to enjoy depicting so much.

Joan Aiken was born in Sussex, England, and her clear enjoyment of the English culture is plain: her subtle and gentle poking of fun at the English establishment works well as she continues to explore her alternate history where the Stuarts have retained the throne and a Channel Tunnel already exists. Those who have read The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase will undoubtedly wish to continue the experience; those who have not would do well to seek out Willoughby Chase, though each book will, of course, stand alone.

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