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Midwinter Nightingale [Hardcover]

Joan Aiken
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 25 2004 Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Dido and Simon are in danger in this new addition to the Wolves Chronicles. Dido, back in England from America, is almost instantly kidnapped and taken to a derelict mansion surrounded by a deadly moat. The evil baron residing there, who is also a werewolf, wants desperately to know where King Dick is hidden. For the king is dying, and the evil baron wants to put his own demented son on the throne. Meanwhile Simon is with the ailing king. Not only does King Dick want Simon to paint a portrait of him and his family, but Simon is also next in line for the throne. However, they do need to find the coronet for the ceremony that will crown Simon. Though the coronet is rumored to be in the derelict mansion where Dido is imprisoned, no one can find it. It’s one cliffhanging, hair-raising chapter after another in this tongue-in-cheek, devilishly delicious adventure.

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From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-Forty years after the publication of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Doubleday, 1963), Aiken presents a new and vibrant adventure of indomitable Dido Twite in this eighth book in the series. Dido gets involved in a plot by an exceedingly evil werewolf-Baron fresh from 15 years incarceration in the Tower of London. The Baron connives to place his own son on the throne of England, rather than Dido's friend Simon. Energetic, imaginative characterization, suspense, and superb timing drive the story to a satisfying conclusion. Although titles in the "Wolves" series may be read independently, readers of the earlier books are the best audience for this romp of a Victorian parody. Aiken's faux-historical novels should appeal to readers of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins).
Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. The latest installment of the Wolves Chronicles finds Simon, Duke of Battersea, hiding the dying King Richard from enemies and on the lookout for a missing coronet needed for the coronation of the new king (who will probably be the unwilling Simon). Also back on the scene is Dido Twite, who, following her return from America, is almost immediately kidnapped. There is much to like here, including a vampire and his nasty son, some Russian bears, and plenty of cliffhangers that lead from one chapter to the next. But the book will be best appreciated by series followers, who have a background in the complicated politics that permeate the story, and are already familiar with those characters whose stories were told in previous books. The last chapter, which finds Simon crowned king and Dido in tears (fearing that Simon's love is now forever lost), signals more adventures to come. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dido Twite is back...as sassy as ever June 13 2003
Format:Hardcover
Who needs Harry Potter when you can thrill to the adventures of Dido Twite, the indefatigable Cockney heroine of Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles?
In this latest installment, Dido is back in England during the (fictional) reign of King Richard IV, just in time to help save the throne from the loutish son of a werewolf baron. Yes, the plot sounds outrageous, and perhaps it is--but the story is so fast-paced, the narrative so vivid and yet so concise, and the characters so charismatic that even the most literal-minded reader (youngster or adult) is unlikely to care.
For fans of Aiken's entire series, which begins with "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" and includes "Black Hearts in Battersea," "Nightbirds on Nantucket," and "The Cuckoo Tree" (one of my favorites), one of the most rewarding aspects of "Midwinter Nightingale" is Dido's reunion with her mate Simon--and the bittersweet yet open-ended way Aiken closes the book. Surely another episode is in the works?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing Excellence Aug. 21 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I loved Joan Aiken's series, starting with the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, when I was a child, and now at 36 they still have just as much ability to charm me. This latest in the installment had enough excitement and humor to keep me reading cover to cover in one sitting. At first I thought she might have gone too far in this story line-werewolves after all! (though I suppose after the Stolen Lake anything was possible), but Aiken carried it off admirably. I was a bit disappointed by the ending though. I suppose I was hoping she might wrap up the story, not because I want the series to end (I wish it could go on forever), but because Aiken is 80 after all and I hope she ties up loose ends before she dies. I hope she's working on the next one!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A weaker continuation of the wonderful Wolves Chronicles April 12 2005
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have been a fan of Joan Aiken's Wolves chronicles ever since my mother brought home The Wolves of Willoughby Chase for me to read in first grade; I own most of her books and enjoy her short stories and other novels as well. However, both this novel and the preceding Dangerous Games disappointed me. While I have no objections to the fantastic plot, it needed to be more fleshed out in order to be convincing. In The Stolen Lake and The Cuckoo Tree Ms Aiken successfully meshed magical, mysterious elements with the vivid, real-feeling world of her novels. Midwinter Nightingale, despite some promising plot elements, falters: she takes her readers' suspension of disbelief for granted. This wouldn't be so bad, however, if the characters held up. Instead, Dido seems a flat imitation of her usual self, drained of all complexity and turned into a dashing puppet. Simon, too, is reduced to a cricature. The villains are unconvincing, and they way that the story deals with them is troubling. One character in particular does not seem evil enough to merit the swift death and lack of remorse that the plot imposes, while another character is killed off in a rather callous manner. I hope that Joan Aiken's next (and final) novel is a return to form; all of her previous books are so good, it would be a shame for this one to overshadow her memory.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dido Twite is back...as sassy as ever June 13 2003
By Sherry Chiger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Who needs Harry Potter when you can thrill to the adventures of Dido Twite, the indefatigable Cockney heroine of Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles?
In this latest installment, Dido is back in England during the (fictional) reign of King Richard IV, just in time to help save the throne from the loutish son of a werewolf baron. Yes, the plot sounds outrageous, and perhaps it is--but the story is so fast-paced, the narrative so vivid and yet so concise, and the characters so charismatic that even the most literal-minded reader (youngster or adult) is unlikely to care.
For fans of Aiken's entire series, which begins with "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" and includes "Black Hearts in Battersea," "Nightbirds on Nantucket," and "The Cuckoo Tree" (one of my favorites), one of the most rewarding aspects of "Midwinter Nightingale" is Dido's reunion with her mate Simon--and the bittersweet yet open-ended way Aiken closes the book. Surely another episode is in the works?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing Excellence Aug. 21 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved Joan Aiken's series, starting with the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, when I was a child, and now at 36 they still have just as much ability to charm me. This latest in the installment had enough excitement and humor to keep me reading cover to cover in one sitting. At first I thought she might have gone too far in this story line-werewolves after all! (though I suppose after the Stolen Lake anything was possible), but Aiken carried it off admirably. I was a bit disappointed by the ending though. I suppose I was hoping she might wrap up the story, not because I want the series to end (I wish it could go on forever), but because Aiken is 80 after all and I hope she ties up loose ends before she dies. I hope she's working on the next one!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dido Twite is here! Jan. 25 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dido Twite has just returned to England, from a visit to Nantucket, and a chilling welcome greets her. She is captured and imprisoned by Baron Rudh (werewolf), his awful son Lot, and the evil Duchess of Burgundy. Her captors hope that she will lead them to Simon Battersea (6th Duke of Battersea) and King Richard, who is on his deathbed. The bad trio plan to put Lot on the throne.

Meanwhile, Simon is struggling to hide King Richard, in the flooded wetlands (where the Burgundians are planning to invade).

Simon also has to find the ancient coronet, but is hampered by the boring Jorinda, a flock of sheep, Russian Bears, and the United Real Saxon Army, who do not fight.

Who will be the King?

A thrilling novel, by Joan Aiken, that makes you want to read it.
2.0 out of 5 stars An Extremely Weak Follow-Up March 21 2013
By Topkat2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sadly, I think this is pretty awful, with very little of the incredible charm that makes the earlier books in the series so wonderful. It differs from them in a couple of unpleasant ways: For one, there is quite a lot of violence in this book -- characters get hurled over cliffs; stabbed in the throat; tossed to ravenous, man-eating fish; and more, and all without any of the series characters (Dido in particular) registering much surprise or regret. The horror element, courtesy of one character's status as a werewolf, is also both new to the series and badly done: It's neither scary nor specific, and the ultimate impression is of sloppiness, as if one of the particularly badly conceived demons from "Buffy" had fetched up in the world of Willoughby Chase, but without the wit or the Scooby Gang. And finally, Aiken's traditionally fabulous touch with historical language deserted her with this book. One character describes another as "dyslexic" -- a term that didn't exist outside of the clinical world until the late 20th century, and is in any case much too technical a term for the character who uses it to know. Dialect is so overused that a couple of the characters are literally incomprehensible.

All in all, I'm very sad to say that this book is a mess, and a poor follow-up to one of the best childrens' series ever written. I give it two stars rather than one because at least Dido can be counted on to say "Croopus," and because I liked the description of Granda's four-course breakfast, complete with flaming brandy.
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