Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The 2015 Classics Challenge: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Thanks to A-Levels and a Literature degree I have probably read more classics than any other type of book. But since I graduated I haven't really been reading any classics, instead I've found myself choosing books I didn't have time for during my degree. However this now means that I have a whole host of unread classics on my physical TBR shelf and I want to try and whittle the number down a bit. Enter the 2015 Classics challenge, hosted by Stacey of Pretty Books! I have belatedly decided to start this challenge almost half way through the year but I think it will help me to get a lot of classics read before 2015 ends. The term 'classic' is going to be pretty flexible for me, I'm going to be reading everything from Roald Dahl to Jane Austen. Stacey has devised a set of questions to be answered to make the reviews a little easier and more fun so I'll be following that format and posting about one book each month. The first classic I've chosen for this challenge is:

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken 
My rating: ☆☆

Can you go a little faster? Can you run?
Long ago, at a time in history that never happened, England was overrun with wolves. But as Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia discover, real danger often lies closer to home. Their new governess, Miss Slighcarp, doesn't seem at all nice. She shuts Bonnie in a cupboard, fires the faithful servants and sends the cousins far away from Willoughby Chase to a place they will never be found. Can Bonnie and Sylvia outwit the wicked Miss Slighcarp and her network of criminals, forgers and snitches? [summary from Goodreads]

When I discovered this classic:
I used to watch the film all the time when I was younger and until quite recently I didn't even know it was a book first! I actually saw Stacey's review of it for her February classic and was surprised and pleased to discover it. I picked it up in a charity shop and read it last month.

Why I chose to read it:
As I said before I loved the film when I was younger even though it used to scare me quite a lot! I wanted to see if the book was similar or whether they'd changed the story for the film, although the film is quite different I think I loved the book even more. It's also quite short so I knew I'd fly through it.

What makes it a classic:
It's a fast-paced adventure story which manages to be heartwarming as well as exciting. The cast of characters are amazingly well-developed for such a short book and I found myself really getting attached to them. Aiken explores darker themes and plot lines in a way that is engaging and accessible to both a young and an adult audience without ever being patronising. Even though it was published in 1962, the language and writing style hasn't aged at all and its themes remain relevant and captivating.

What I thought of this classic:
I absolutely adored it and will definitely be re-reading it in the future, probably on a winter day in front of the fire. The book is extremely atmospheric, Aiken's descriptions draw you right into the world and writing is compelling and beautiful. The adventure story was well-paced and interesting and I loved all of the characters. I really want to read the rest of this series.

Will it stay a classic:
I certainly hope so! It makes me a little sad that I didn't know about it earlier which makes me think that it might be quite underrated. I know that there is a vintage children's classic edition so hopefully that will drive sales and increase the readership of this book amongst a new generation of young readers. I know that I would have loved to read this when I was younger.

Who I'd recommend it to:
Anyone who's a fan of classic children's adventure authors like Enid Blyton, or descriptive stories with a darker element like Peter Pan. But I would really recommend this to anyone, I think it's so universal that everyone could enjoy it.

So that's this month's classic, as I said I'll be posting these each month and if you would like to sign up to the challenge (it's not too late) click here.

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