Monday, 29 September 2014
Review: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Released: September 25th, 2014
Preparations for the Ghastly-Gorm Garden Party and bake-off are under way. Celebrity cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event and, true to form, Maltravers, the indoor gamekeeper, is acting suspiciously. Elsewhere at Ghastly-Gorm Ada's wardrobe-dwelling lady's maid Marylebone has received a marriage proposal. Ada vows to aid the course of true love and find out what Maltravers is up to, but amidst all this activity, everyone, including her father, appears to have forgotten her birthday!
I absolutely love this series about Ada Goth and the strange goings on at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Not only is it funny and gothic, it's also beautifully illustrated and full of characters that I wish were real. They're all just so entertaining, with personalities that jump off the page and work their way into your thoughts. I have a particular soft spot for Lord Goth and his ramblers' verse, but that's enough of that!
Goth Girl and the Fete Worst Than Death can be read as a standalone or as part of the series, though obviously I'd strongly recommend reading Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse first, simply because it's one of the best children's books I've read. In this second instalment, Ghastly-Gorm Hall is preparing for the Full-Moon Fete and the Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off. Everyone is involved, complete strangers are showing up at the door every day, Ada's lady's maid Marylebone has a secret to share and Ada is feeling a bit left out - nobody seems to remember it's almost her birthday. Just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger, they do!
Chris Riddell has a fantastic sense of humour that shines through his writing on every page. Whether it's naming his Bake Off cooks things like Nigellina Sugarspoon and Gordon Ramsgate, or having a family of possible vampires called The Glum-Stokers, there's a lot of laughs here and clever ones too. I chuckled out loud to myself several times, and that to me is the sign of a good children's book.
The illustrations are as much a part of this book as the text, and they really are an absolute treat to look at. Riddell's signature style is here, of course, and every single character gets some page time. There's nothing left to the imagination, not even the London newspaper, and that's one of the things I love most about these books. It's also so well presented than anyone browsing a bookshelf would have no choice but to grab it for a closer look and, in keeping with the first book, there's even a secret little book at the very end!
I can't possibly say enough good things about this series and I hope it continues for a long time. Ada must have many more stories to tell, and I will be reading them all. The highest commendation I can give this series is to say that it's almost as good as The Raven Mysteries, which is my all-time favourite younger fiction series. Anyone who likes those books will utterly love this one, and you should all read it. The presentation alone is well worth the cover price!