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Black Hearts in Battersea Paperback – October 25, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
Book 2 of 12 in the Wolves Chronicles Series

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Editorial Reviews


"A fantastic adventure story ... Highly entertaining" Sunday Telegraph "Joan Aiken is such a spellbinder" Evening Standard "A writer of wild humour and unrestrained imagination" Oxford Companion to Children's Literature "Joan Aiken is a marvel" -- Philip Pullman Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joan Aiken, daughter of the American writer Conrad Aiken, was born in Rye, Sussex, England, and has written more than sixty books for children, including The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395971284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395971284
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Black Hearts in Battersea" is the second book in Joan Aiken's beloved "Wolves" saga, beginning with "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" and continuing in "Nightbirds in Nantucket". Each book can be read separately and out of order (ie, each is a separate story, not one big story broken into several parts), linked by re-appearing characters, plot lines and locations. Each is set in a cleverly devised "parallel universe" where historical figures and events are changed from what we would recognise in our own history books. In this case, the action takes place in London, where Britain is ruled by good King James III and plauged by maurauding wolves immigrating from Russia, with other little snippets of an alternative history slipped in to give the book a whimsical, but authentic air. Anyone who has read Diana Wynne Jones's "Chrestomanci" books, or Phillip Pullman's "Northern Lights" will have no trouble adapting to this new environment, but those who haven't might be in for a pleasent surprise when they discover some of the little gems Aiken throws in: next to the familiar sights of Hyde Park and St Paul's Cathedral are places such as Battersea Castle on the Thames, made of pinkish stone, and made 'to look like a great half-open rose.' With such a fascinating world to explore, it hardly seems to matter whether there's a story or not.
But of course there is, and it perfectly combines with the backdrop Aiken sets for it. Young Simon the half-wild goose-boy, last seen being offered a painting career by Dr Field in "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" arrives in London to begin his education at the Art Academy in Chelsea. But things are set to go wrong from the very beginning.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an awesome addition to the Wolves of Willoghby Chase. Although, Bonnie and Sylvia Green have a very small part in the story, this book is even more suspensful than its predecessor. Simon returns to study Painting with Dr. Field at an art academy in London. In London we meet many new and exciting characters, Dido Twite, a poor child who craves adventure and Simons's affection, Sophie, the lady-in-waiting for the Duchess of Battersea, and many others. There are other books besides this one. Make sure to read them all. An excellent series to read aloud to a Fifth or Sixth Grade class. They just die when you stop right before the climax of a part. It really captures their attention.
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A Kid's Review on May 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
BLACK HEARTS IN BATTERSEA is written by Joan Aiken and takes place during the reign of King James III, near the beginning of the nineteenth century. The story is about a boy named Simon, an orphan, who travels to London to meet an old friend named Dr. Field who promised to teach Simon painting. When he reaches the house where Dr. Field is supposed to be lodging, all he finds is an annoying little girl named Dido Twite. The Twites' are the owner of the house, and they tell Simon that they have no clue who or where Dr. Field is. Confused, Simon decides to stay at their house for a while. Soon, he finds himself playing chess with the kind old gentleman who is the Duke of Battersea, taking Dido to the fair, and meeting a boy named Justin. Justin is also an orphan and is in the middle of preparing to be the next Duke of Battersea. Dido starts to like Simon and tells him that she knows what happened to Dr. Field, but she cannot tell him. Simon starts to think Mr. Twite is one of the people who wants to overthrow good King James and the Duke and Duchess of Battersea. He also thinks Mr. Twite has something to do with the mysterious disappearance of Dr. Field. It seems that everywhere the Duke and Duchess go, they experience mishaps: a fire at the opera house, a wrecked ship, attacking wolves, and poisonous mince pies. With the help from Sophie, Simon's old friend and the Duchess' maid, they are all saved from the accidents. The accidents sound strange to everyone, and Simon thinks they were purposeful.
However, many of the people who are against King James feel that Simon is dangerous and is ruining their plot. One night Mr. Twite and some other men kidnap Simon, but Dido sees them. She follows them and meets Justin on the way, and they both follow the kidnappers to a ship, called the "Dark Dew".
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Format: Paperback
This is a direct sequel to "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase," which took place about a year before. In it, for the first time, we learn that Aiken's world is not our own, but an alternate reality in which the Stuarts kept the British throne; the King is James III, the "Hanoverian Wars" were fought some 15 years earlier to keep him in office, and the "Pretender" is "Bonnie Prince Georgie over the water," who is supported at home by a conspiracy of Hanoverians. Simon, the young orphan hero of "Wolves," is now 15, and comes to London to study painting and lodge with Dr. Gabriel Field, whom he befriended in the previous book. When he finds the doctor's lodgings (not without a good deal of misdirection, which proves to be enemy action), not only is Field not there, but everyone insists he never was. Bewildered, Simon manages to gain entry to the art school in Battersea, where he deeply impresses the master and meets Justin, the thoroughly untalented nephew of the Duke of Battersea, whose castle lies directly across the Thames. He soon makes the acquaintance of the Batterseas themselves, a delightfully foggy middle-aged couple (the Duke is a keen natural scientist and experimenter in gas balloons, and his lady has such a horror of boredom that she carries an arsenal of amusements wherever she goes, including the opera), and discovers to his delight that his dear friend Sophie, whom he knew in the orphanage before running away at the age of eight, is now the Duchess's lady's-maid.Read more ›
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