Thursday, December 10, 2009
midnight is a place
Joan Aiken was a British author who was known primarily for her children's books - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series was very popular for years, first published in 1962 with a gorgeous cover by Edward Gorey:
She wrote many adult novels as well, in many genres from gothic thriller to mystery to supernatural. Her writing is a marvel of clarity and sly, sharp intelligence, as well as a wicked and playful sense of humour. She could combine elegance and tremendous human warmth with a shade of the sinister that stayed with you for days. Her titles are equally evocative: Black Hearts in Battersea, Voices in an Empty House, Midnight is a Place. But it's her short stories that show the sharpest edge, the highest polish.
Her short story collections are hard to find (I dug mine up on eBay) but well worth the search. Don't let the Puffin editions fool you. A Whisper in the Night and A Bundle of Nerves are full of nasty, beautiful wonders that will democratically haunt adult and child alike.