Joan Aiken, for your next read aloud this winter.
Most of the action of this Gothic-era story takes place inside a grand English manor house, "Willoughby Chase" (oddly enough, the wolves are mainly in the background of the story); add a wicked governess, two cousins (a plucky rich girl and a penniless orphaned girl) and a kind country gooseboy, and you've got characters and drama that would rival any Frances Hodgsdon Burnett story (with some abusive Roald Dahl-style authority figures, Agatha Christie twists and turns, and a Charles Dickens prison-like-school thrown in)...can you resist that for a cold winter's night?
Young Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia are threatened not only by wolves, but by a new governess - their distant relative "Miss Slighcarp" - who is sent for when Bonnie's doting parents leave Willoughby Chase for a healthful sea voyage. Simon the gooseboy tries to help the girls escape the trials and misfortunes as things go from bad to unbearable, thanks to their grim governess. But it's not all darkness and drear. The cruel adults in the story are balanced by kind and caring ones and, in the end, good overcomes evil.
My niece and nephew recommended this book to me - I wish I'd read it as a child! Your child will like it, especially if he or she enjoyed The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, or Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you are the designated adult reader, you will like it if you enjoyed Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, or any of the Agatha Christie mysteries.
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is the first in a series of books by Aiken. Click HERE to read more about Joan Aiken's 12 fantasy books that make up the Wolves of Willoughby Chase Chronicles. (Disclosure: I have not personally read the whole set. The first book stands alone just fine). Ages 10 and up.