Nightbirds on Nantucket



by Joan Aiken

Published 1966

At the end of Black Hearts and Battersea, Simon and his friend, Dido Twite, are shipwrecked.  While we know that Simon is rescued, everyone fears the worst for Dido Twite, and the book ends with her friends assuming that she died at sea.  I read someplace that Aiken’s original intention was to leave that as canon, but so many of her readers wrote to her asking about Dido’s fate, that she decided that Dido would live.  And, in fact, Dido becomes the main character for the next several books in the Wolves series.  (I am not yet through them all, so I cannot say whether she is the heroine of all of the rest or not!)

In Nightbirds, we find that Dido was rescued by a whaler, and has been in a coma for several months.  The story picks up when Dido regains consciousness, and follows her adventures on the ship, as she befriends the captain’s daughter.  Left on Nantucket to be a companion to the fearful Dutiful Penitence as she goes to live with her aunt.  Except the aunt seems oddly familiar to readers of Aiken’s earlier books…

Adventures with a pink whale, a giant gun, and ridiculous Hanoverians, this story set in Aiken’s alternate-universe world where bonny James III rules England and magic is not completely fictional, this tale was a great deal of fun.