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Cold Shoulder Road by Joan Aiken

Cold Shoulder Road (1995)

by Joan Aiken

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wolves Chronicles (9)

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176767,448 (3.85)17
  1. 30
    Is by Joan Aiken (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Another novel featuring Dido Twite's sister Is and cousin Arun.

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"Every night, around nine o'clock in Cold Shoulder road, the screaming began. It came from the end house in the row. It was not very loud. The sound was like the cries of the gulls that flew and whirled along the shingle-bank on the seaward side of the road..."

Joan Aiken really knows how to write stuff that, while wholly appealing to young people, is also genuinely chilling. When I was a kid, my local library had 'The Wolves of Willoughby Chase' and its first two sequels. I was young enough when I read them that I wasn't quite certain which elements in this alternate-history England were fantasy and which were just British - it all seemed quite exotic to me! I read those three books several times each, but didn't later follow the series - and and no idea until picking this up that it had continued into the mid-90s!

The setting was familiar, but the characters here are ones I wasn't familiar with - although it's clearly not the first time they've been introduced. Is Twite and her cousin Arun are travelling in search of Arun's mum, whom he left to strike out on his own several years ago. Arun is devastated when he comes back to an empty house, with no clues as to where she might have gone. Arun's mother was a member of a strange cult called the Silent Sect, and the unsavory neighbors seem to think that odder-than-usual things have been going on within the group.

There's also a gang of vicious smugglers calling themselves the Merry Gentry, who are well on their way to keeping the local populace under their thumb with fear and threats.

Add in an antique buried treasure that everyone has plans for... and the plot is underway.

Several times, while reading this, I was reminded that this is the exact sort of story that Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events was inspired by.

However, while it's good, it's not Aiken's best. The telepathy isn't really intrinsic or necessary to the story, the villains are a bit lacking in back story, and events tend to happen rather too conveniently.

I'm still glad to have had the opportunity to read it. Many thanks to Open Road and NetGalley. As always, my opinions are solely my own. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Is is back, travelling with Arun from the north to find his mother in the south. But the house on Cold Shoulder Road is empty and the people are unfriendly and there are smugglers and bandits abroad with a fierce grip on the land, with hostage children and terrible reprisals and mammoth-tusk ivory smuggled through the channel tunnel. Another Tale Of Twites, good and bad, dogged heroism versus diabolical mischief. Chases and kidnaps, traps and escapes, inventive hidey-holes and strange folk of one stripe or another. Classic Aiken. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Eh. Not terrible, but I don't think I'd care to read it again. Where it's not obvious and predictable, it's seriously loopy - and sometimes both at once. I like Ruth, I like Arun, Is and Penny are good, Pye is amazingly annoying even though she has reason to be. Why kill Jen off, though? And all the others? All the deaths are off-screen, reported after the fact at best - sometimes only rumor. As far as the story goes, they're rather pointless. Even as warnings from the Merry Gentry, they're rather pointless. And when we get to see the methods, they're ridiculous - the kite makes no sense at all (the likelihood of it landing exactly where they want it to? Sheesh). So - random actions by heroes and villains, even worse than usual floods of coincidence, lots of convenient help from very peculiar places, and no point or overall goal, really - I mean, the main aim was to find Arun's mother and that was accomplished half-way through. Then tangles appeared and snagged them all over again - and the final solution was waaaay too easy, both of them. The villains die in ridiculously convenient ways. Not a favorite. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Nov 23, 2013 |
In this ninth entry in Aiken's Wolves Chronicles, and the second featuring Is Twite as a heroine, Is and her cousin Arun go in search of Arun's mother in Folkstone. Here they must contend with a band of ruthless smugglers known as The Merry Gentlemen, and a strange religious cult called the Silent Sect. Aiken delivers her usual assortment of odd characters and unexpected plot developments, including more unknown Twite relations, a long-lost royal treasure, and a frigate stuck at the top of a tree.

I was surprised to discover, while reading Cold Shoulder Road, that I was becoming somewhat impatient with Aiken's series. As I mentioned in my review of Is Underground, the two titles featuring Is Twite do not rank among my favorites in the Wolves Chronicles, mostly because I consider Is Twite to be a shallow and unsatisfactory copy of her older sister, Dido. But this title, in particular, struck me as being the low point in Aiken's extended narrative about an alternative Britain. The author utilizes all of her regular tricks, and perhaps that is part of the problem. As paradoxical as it may be, her unconventionality almost seems routine by this point...

I might have stopped reading the series at this point, if I hadn't discovered that the next title, Dangerous Games, reverts back to Dido's adventures. As a side note, although I didn't really enjoy Cold Shoulder Road, I loved the cover artwork by Edward Gorey. ( )
3 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jun 28, 2013 |
The sequel to 'Is' (US: 'Is Underground') is another of Joan Aiken's unputdownable novels in the James III / Wolves sequence. The villains are as villainish as ever, with few redeeming features, the young (and not-so-young) protagonists are regularly scrobbled, and much of the fairytale action which would normally be regarded as implausible acquires a degree of reality through Aiken's powerful storytelling.

Rich in details, the novel dovetails chronologically into the rest of the series but can be enjoyed--just about--as a standalone. Most of the action takes place in Kent, along the coast from Aiken's beloved Sussex, but in Aiken's usual timeframe where the 1830s or the early 1840s are not quite as the history we are more familiar with. ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Sep 28, 2010 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joan Aikenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gorey, EdwardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robertson, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Every night, around nine o'clock in Cold Shoulder Road, the screaming began.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440413419, Hardcover)

Having freed the children enslaved in the northern mines, Is Twite and her cousin Arun return to Folkestone to find Arun's mother. But she has disappeared without a trace. There's plenty of evidence of strange goings-on now that the Channel Tunnel is open, and smugglers called the Merry Gentry have the whole countryside terrified. Have they abducted Arun's mother? Is and Arun are up against the evil Dominic de la Twite and the sneaky Admiral Fishskin in this fast-paced, wickedly witty adventure.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

As they search for Arun's mother, Is Twite and her cousin Arun are grateful for their ability to communicate telepathically when they find themselves in a series of dangerous predicaments involving the evil Dominic de la Twite and his Silent Sect.

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