In an England that never existed, in a time of Victorian values, the country is overrun with wolves. When young Sylvia embarks on a long train journey to stay with her cousin Bonnie, things begin to go wrong very quickly. With Bonnie’s parents leaving for sunnier climes, the girls discover their new governess, the sour-faced Miss Slighcarp, has plans that don’t include her distant relatives. Punishing the girls for apparent misdemeanours, she gets rid of all the faithful servants, retaining only those whose outlook is as harsh as her own.
Joan Aiken’s best-known book is written in a style that evokes the finest in children’s literature. The characters and descriptions are at times a little stereotypical (in the Dickensian tradition of highlighting all that is lacking in society), and the girls’ adventures occasionally skim over a little too quickly. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into Ms Aiken’s work and will definitely be reading the other books in the Wolves Chronicle series.