What’s it all about?:
Having had enough of life on board the ship that saved her from a watery grave, Dido Twite wants nothing more than to sail home to England. Instead, Captain Casket’s ship lands in Nantucket, where Dido and the captain’s daughter, Dutiful Penitence, are left in the care of Dutiful’s sinister Aunt Tribulation. In Tribulation’s farmhouse, life is unbearable. When mysterious men lurk about in the evening fog, the resourceful Dido rallies against their shenanigans with help from Dutiful, a cabinboy named Nate, and a pink whale.
What did I think?:
This novel is the third in The Wolves Chronicles books by Joan Aiken that I’ve been steadily reading with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads for our Kid-Lit challenge over the past few years. We absolutely adored the first novel in the series, The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase and quite enjoyed the follow-up, Black Hearts In Battersea so were both intrigued to see how the series was going to continue, particularly with the emergence of beloved character Dido Twite. Sadly, I’m not sure if the books in this series are getting weaker or if it’s just when I read them as an adult, I seem to have lost some of that old childish magic/sparkle that would ordinarily keep me gripped within an adventure story just like this. There are of course some wonderful things that would appeal to a younger audience in this novel and at some points, it really feels like a classic piece of literature, giving me all the old Blyton “feels” that I used to experience every time I cracked open a Secret Seven, Famous Five or Faraway Tree book but unfortunately, I didn’t feel the plot was as strong compared to Aiken’s previous novels in the series.
Joan Aiken, author of Nightbirds On Nantucket, the third novel in The Wolves Chronicles.
In this third book in the series, we see the triumphant return of fan favourite, Dido Twite who was first introduced to us in Black Hearts In Battersea and for a short time, I felt incredibly irritated by until the story developed further and she became more endearing than annoying! In Nightbirds On Nantucket, after the dramatic (almost cliffhanger events) of the second novel, Dido finds herself on a strange ship bound for an isolated island. She is tasked with taking the Captain’s anxious daughter, Dutiful Penitence under her wing, bringing her out of her shell and encouraging her that living part-time on the island of Nantucket with her Aunt Tribulation wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, when the two girls reach Nantucket, they realise that things aren’t all they seem to be. A plot to overthrow the King Of England, a mysterious pink whale and some very shady characters are just some of the things Dido and Pen must deal with if they are to convince the local community of the dangerous plans afoot.
One of my favourite things about this series is the gorgeous illustrations by Robin Jacques.
This series has everything going for it, including fantastic characters, classic villains and real, “feel good” endings. I enjoyed the inclusion of the pink whale and the development of Pen as a character in particular. She went from a terrified little girl who was afraid of her own shadow to a determined and loyal young friend that found some admirable inner strength when people she loved were in trouble. I think Nate, the cabin boy that Dido and Pen meet had the potential to be a good character and an interesting side-kick for the girls but wasn’t explored as much as he could have been. Plus, his eternal singing kind of got on my nerves a little bit! Nevertheless, I think Aiken choosing to focus on two female leads was a work of genius, especially considering how much bravery and fight they displayed when times got tough.
Joan Aiken has legions of fans across the world for this series and I can definitely see why – it’s packed full of adventure and mystery with the addition of the lovable characters I mentioned earlier. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t connect with this book as much as I have done with the previous stories in the series, there was just something about the plot that I couldn’t quite get on board with. However, I can one hundred percent understand why it continues to have such appeal and holds a special place in people’s hearts.
For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
COMING UP IN NOVEMBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Number The Stars by Lois Lowry.