Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Review: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: September 12th, 2013
Ada Goth is the only child of Lord Goth. The two live together in the enormous Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Lord Goth believes that children should be heard and not seen, so Ada has to wear large clumpy boots so that he can always hear her coming. This makes it hard for her to make friends and, if she's honest, she's rather lonely. Then one day William and Emily Cabbage come to stay at the house, and together with a ghostly mouse called Ishmael they and Ada begin to unravel a dastardly plot that Maltravers, the mysterious indoor gamekeeper, is hatching. Ada and her friends must work together to foil Maltravers before it's too late!
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is one of the best children's books I've read this year. Possibly *the* best. Aside from its truly beautiful presentation, it's a fantastic gothic story with unusual characters, clever writing and amazing illustrations. The whole package really is a work of art.
Ada Goth lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her strange father, Lord Goth, numerous ghosts and an array of servants. One night the ghost of a mouse called Ishmael shows up, explaining that he'd been killed in a mouse trap and was no destined to roam Ghastly-Gorm Hall forever. What he doesn't know is that there's trouble afoot, and he and Ada are the only ones who can solve the mystery.
I absolutely loved Ishmael, especially his own little book included as an extra at the back of Goth Girl. It's the story of his travels, titled Memoirs of a Mouse, and tells the story of how he found his way to Ghastly-Gorm Hall. I wish he'd been featured in the main book more; he's definitely my favourite! Ada is great too, inquisitive and brave and not at all afraid of the many ghosties haunting her house. Also, she has terrible luck with governesses!
This book is so well illustrated that nothing and no-one is left to the imagination. I particularly enjoyed being able to see Ishmael, Ada and the other creatures in the story, and it certainly helps when trying to visualise the gothic, dark surroundings. I'm a big fan of illustrated books, mainly because that extra element adds a certain magic not found in normal, text-only novels. It's also a treat to see an author's own illustrations, which in this case are as much a part of the story as the words.
I don't know whether Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is the start of a series or a standalone novel, but I hope it's the former. I would love to return to Ghastly-Gorm Hall and see what Ada's up to and whether her new governess, Lucy Borgia, is still there and struggling with an aversion to garlic. This book is perfect for anyone who has read and enjoyed Marcus Sedgwick's The Raven Mysteries, or anyone who just likes a brilliant story. Well done, Chris Riddell!