Whenever I’m asked to recommend an author, Joan Aiken is at the top of my list. She was, quite simply, a genius – prolific, mercurial, everything written of the highest quality.
The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories collects a large set of stories, testament to Aiken’s compendious imagination. It’s a great place to start and you’ll soon get a taste for the unique flavour of her writing, at once brazenly assured, wildly funny, edge-of-the-seat exciting and, yes, quite bonkers at times! The individual story called The Serial Garden, however, whilst still touching on all these characteristics, has an elegiac quality that haunts the memory, long after the tale has been read. It’s one of the most beautiful things I know.