Chris Riddell is one of my favourite illustrators, and Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is the first book I’ve read that’s both written and illustrated by him. It’s gorgeous, with wonderful pictures, silver foil, shiny purple edges, and a tiny book hidden at the back. But the story inside is also stunning!
Ada Goth lives in the beautifully elaborate Ghastly-Gorm Hall. She shares her home with almost absent father and famous cycling poet, Lord Goth. Ada is content, although she would love to have friends her own age – she’s a little bit lonely. That is, until she meets an incredibly talented duo: William and Emily Cabbage. William and Emily are the children of servants, and Ada is honoured to be invited to their secret Attic Club. Together, the children must work to solve the mystery goings-on at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. What is Maltravers – the sinister indoor gamekeeper – doing in his spare time? What is Ishmael’s – the ghost mouse who haunts Ada – purpose? And why have so many mythical creatures been captured? Goth Girl introduces us to the comedic characters and beautiful surroundings that Ada and friends come across during their ambitious expedition.
Goth Girl is extravagant; full of quirky characters, lots of adventure, and ingenious footnotes (explanations and definitions written under an illustration of a tiny severed foot!). From Mary Shelley to Jane Ear, it has many wonderful references for people of all ages. Literary puns and jokes are clearly some of Chris Riddell’s favourite things – Goth Girl is full of them! I only wish we had seen more of the very sweet ghost mouse. Ishmael was adorable. As with every time I pick up an illustrated children’s book, it makes me wish all fiction had pictures for us to enjoy alongside the story.
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is a brilliantly hilarious and imaginative story for children and adults alike. I’m very much looking forward to reading Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death and Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fight. I hope we get to go on more adventures with William and Emily Cabbage and the rest of the Attic Club!
Published: September 2013
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books