Unless there is another Aiken book that starts with a boy meeting an annoying girl on a train, I've actually read this before, although I don't remember much about the plot. You'd think an evil werewolf, a missing king, and wantonly murdered cat would be memorable, though, wouldn't you? Maybe I should stick with her earlier books...
I feel like a remember the earlier books, which I read in elementary, pretty well, but maybe I was more focused on the characters than the setting. I don't remember the alternate history being as complex in them as it is here. There was the ongoing thread of Hanoverian plotting, with revolutionaries trying to assassinate the Stuart king so they could get Bonnie Prince Georgie on the throne, but I don't remember all the stuff with England being divided into four kingdoms and the whole politico-geography of Europe being very different. Maybe it was just that those earlier stories were from the point of view of kids who were marginally aware of politics. Speaking of kids, wasn't there like a ten-year age gap between Simon and Dido when they met? Now she's practically grown up or old enough to get married at least, and I thought this was one of the lamest last-minute insertions of romantic interest ever
and Simon seems barely older than her.
This book also has a more Gothic feel, what with all the Bad Blood and intermarriage and secret treason and people being locked up in dark ancestral manses. Fun, but I didn't care about whether Burgundy invades the way I did about Bonnie and Sylvia escaping from the horrible orphanage or Dido teaching Dutiful Penitence to have a little spunk.