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The Whispering Mountain Mass Market Paperback – May 19, 2002

9 customer reviews
Book 0 of 12 in the Wolves Chronicles Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tor's Starscape imprint reissues four titles this season. The first, The Whispering Mountain by Joan Aiken first published in 1968 follows Owen and Arabis as they try to prevent the evil Lord Mayln from stealing the town's magical golden harp. In the other three: the young protagonist battles the Buggers, a band of hostile aliens in Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card, a companion novel to last season's Ender's Game; The Garden Behind the Moon by 19th-century novelist Howard Pyle tells of a boy's journey to the beyond; and in Orvis by H.M. Hoover, the titular robot, a girl named Toby and her friend Thaddeus flee when Toby's grandmother threatens to send her to school on Mars. (June)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“An enchanting, original story.” —The Times of London

“Wild, bold, imaginative...the story is funny, exciting and strange.” —Daily Telegraph

“A humorous unhistorical novel set in the imaginary reign of James III. Aiken is a natural storyteller with the gift of endless comic invention.” —The Guardian Prize committee

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Starscape; 1st edition (May 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765342413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765342416
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,432,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Aiken (1924-2004) daughter of Pulitzer prize winning poet Conrad Aiken started writing herself from the age of five. During her lifetime she published over one hundred books for children and adults, including the acclaimed Wolves of Willoughby Chase series. In the UK she received an MBE from the Queen for her services to Children's Literature.

Follow Joan Aiken on and on Twitter at
Read backstories, news and more on the official Joan Aiken blog at:

Following the 50th ANNIVERSARY of Joan's much loved first book in the Wolves Chronicles Series - 'THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE' famously hailed as 'One Genuine Small Masterpiece' by Time Magazine - look out for brand new editions and award winning AUDIO read by Joan's daughter Lizza Aiken

Visit "The Wonderful World of Joan Aiken" at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark L. Solomon on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am astonished that this book is not more popular, and is no longer in print. It has always been my favourite among Joan Aiken's novels, and is one of my most treasured children's books. The dramatic Welsh setting, and the theme of the fabled Golden Harp of Teirtu give the book a special enchantment, and it is enlivened by such delightful and eccentric characters as the Seljuk of Rum, in search of his lost race of gold-working dwarves, and the dreamy poet Tom Dando, not to mention the sinister, gold-obsessed Marquess of Malyn. The intrepid Owen and wilful Arabis are an unusual and sympathetic pair of heroes. Then there are the comic cockney villains Bilk and Prigman. The tale is set in Aiken's alternative Britain, where the wicked Hanoverians plot to oust the rightful Stuarts, familiar from the Dido Twite novels. I warmly recommend The Whispering Mountain to readers and publishers alike.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 19, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Joan Aiken's lesser-known works are among her best. Fresh off of "Cockatrice Boys," I picked up "Whispering Mountain" with a vague sense of unease. Too often fantasies with Celtic backdrops have become stale and repetitive, but Aiken's wry humor and delightful use of characterizations make this a rare treasure.
In the little Welsh town of Pennygaff, Owen has come to live with his crotchety, chilly grandfather after his mother's death. He is chased and bullied by the other, larger boys; his only friend is the odd but kind girl Arabis and her dreamy poet father, Tom Dando. In fact, Owen trusts Arabis enough to tell her a secret: His grandfather has unearthed what may be the legendary golden Harp of Teirtu. The ruthless, gold-obsessed Lord Malyn soon asks the grandfather to hand over the harp, but the old man refuses.
When Owen plans to run away from his grandfather, he end up abducted by a pair of none-too-swift criminals hired by Lord Malyn. Unexpectedly rescued by Arabis, Owen finds himself being blamed for the theft of the harp. He ends up in a bewildering adventure full of subterranean dwarves, oddly-speaking foreigners, sneaky and none-too-swift criminals, and the missing Prince of Wales.
Owen is sympathetic by being a "Charlie Brown" hero. As the book opens, we see him being pursued by a bunch of bullies; he is also near-sighted, meek, and fears being a burden on his grandfather. Arabis is reminiscent of a Lloyd Alexander heroine, with her sharp mind and slightly out-of-the-ordinary ways. She is a fascinating character, who doesn't so much as blink at the idea of healing enormous numbers of underground dwarves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Set in Wales this book very different from the others that Joan Aiken has written, not using any of the usual main characters or locations, but still maintaining the humour and wild plots that make her writing so wonderful. A mad lord searching for a fabled golden harp, a lost tribe who live deep inside the mountains, thieves, attempted murder, legends and an intricate story line all feature in this brilliant book.
Fans won't be disappointed.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By ealovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on September 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Joan Delano Aiken is a prolific British author of adult and young adult fantasy, mysteries, and gothic romances. "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase," which won the 1965 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award is probably her best known young adult novel. Regardless of whether her works are intended for adults or for children, they often contain hair-raising adventures that alternate (somewhat oddly, in my opinion) with lighthearted romps.
I was uncomfortable with the mixture of comedy and terror in "The Whispering Mountain," a young adult fantasy that takes place in a land resembling eighteenth century Wales. The young hero, Owen Hughes lives with his strict, grumpy grandfather in the small town of Pennygaff. He is on his way home from the Jones Academy for the Sons of Gentlemen and Respectable Tradesman one cold, rainy evening when he is ambushed by the local bullies.
Two gypsies, father and daughter save Owen and take him home to his grandfather. 'Home' also happens to be a museum of curious artifacts, including an old harp.
Grandfather chases the gypsies off of his property then goes to a meeting, leaving his grandson to guard the museum and its ancient harp. Normally Owen doesn't mind staying in the museum, but tonight his encounter with the bullies has made him nervous. Nevertheless, he falls asleep. He doesn't wake up until two rough strangers, speaking London thieves' cant, break into the one-room museum.
(It was hard for me to understand what the thieves were talking about, even though I've read a zillion Regency romances, including the complete works of Georgette Heyer--and one or two of the gothics by Joan Aiken. What does it mean when a character says, "Get a bit o' prog while you're at it," or "...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
What a pleasure to visit "Wales" with Joan Aiken. Owen Hughes, the unlikely hero of this delightful book, manages to bear up under his grandfather's dislike and distrust, the bullying of local school boys, the machinations of the gold-crazed Marquess of Malyn and his two cockney minions, Bilk and Prigman, and save the Harp of Teirtu, restoring it to its rightful masters.
A book full of whimsy and wonder, gorgeously described, and great fun to read aloud (Aiken's really captured multiple accents and affects). I recommend it to anyone who ever loved a good yarn and fantasy.
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