I also disagree with that reviewer's assertion that Dido and Pa was formulaic and stale; it is, in fact, my favorite novel in the series of nine, and, tragically, the only one out of print. Dido *finally* reunites with Simon, older, wiser, and worldly. The two are very happy to be together again at last, although their joyous reunion, in typical Aiken fashion, does not last long.
Aiken's plots are water-tight and well-developed, interesting, lively, and full of skilled foreshadowing. If this is a formula, oh that it were one all writers followed!
I'm hoping beyond hope that Ms. Aiken will resolve Simon and Dido's fate in a new novel-she focuses on every character except my two favorites!
The redoubtable Dido Twite returns from her adventures in the Atlantic to reunite with Simon (now a Duke) in London, where she finds that once again her nefarious musician father is up to his eyebrows in 'Hanoverian' plots against the Stuart throne. The tale is crammed with incident as Dido and Simon fight the machinations of Abednego Twite and his patron, the evil Margrave Eisengrim. The appearant foundling Is, who (in the next novel) proves to be the daughter of Dido's unhappy sister Penelope, is also introduced.
All Aiken's adventures contain dark edges and disturbing images but in previous novels they were counterbalanced by a more inventive goodness and optimism - although it has to be admitted that 'The Wolves of Willoughby Chase' was a pretty tough cookie for a juvenile adventure. With 'Dido and Pa' the series has become somewhat stale and the characters more routine - though still superior to most of Aiken's competition. Perhaps as a result the Dickensian environment of cruelty and misery becomes more oppressive, which together with the 'just desserts' experienced by the villians makes the novel grim reading for the grade school set.