Somewhat predictably, I ditched “Midnight is a Place” for the newly arrived “Night Birds on Nantucket”. Boy, was I glad that I did. For me, this narrative beats the somewhat outré character of “The stolen Lake”. Dido’s kindness towards Pen is moving (how is it that children’s fiction can elicit emotions so easily?) and her methods for drawing the other child out of her self-imposed solitude are typical of children’s books of this period. Modern books for children seem to have ditched this kind of subtlety for wind jokes and the like. I’m also filled with questions like “Who is the lady hidden below deck?” and “Is there an actual pink whale?” My only complaint is the way that Dido accepts the slaughter of the what without question. But, that is probably a reflection of my very modern morality. A child in James III / Victorian times would probably have had a more pragmatic attitude to what went on aboard a whaling ship.
This may turn out to be my most favourite Joan Aiken book thus far.
N.B. It was very difficult avoiding using the word “Croopus” somewhere in this post but I think that I managed it.