I finished reading Joan Aiken’s novel “The Stolen Lake” this morning. I know that I’d promised to read “Midnight is a Place” first but the note to the reader at the start of the book said that the reader didn’t need to read either “Black Hearts in Battersea” or “Night Birds on Nantucket” to enjoy the story and I needed another Dido Twite adventure so I went ahead and read “The Stolen Lake” first.
There are so many unsavoury characters for Dido and her companions to overcome. I don’t want to give away too many plot details but the Queen is an absolute ogre, her dressmaker and the dressmaker’s assistants are monsters and Silver Taffy is utterly ruthless. But Bran and Mr Holystone are the sources of Dido’s strength at key moments. Bran in particular is enigmatic and resourceful.
The whole narrative is laced with Celtic (Welsh in this case) and Ancient Roman mythology and Arthurian legend (albeit twisted out of shape and in a melting pot) and at times I didn’t know whether it was appropriate to laugh or to cry. One comment from Dido made me laugh out loud (something that doesn’t happen often).
It’s grim in places and quite loopy in others but a thoroughly enjoyable romp none-the-less.
Joan Aiken wrote a wonderful story full of odd characters and clever observations and it’ll be even more enjoyable when I next read it again.