I love Chris Riddell.
My children love him too.
He is probably best known for his series of YA/Teen fantasy novels; ‘The Edge Chronicles’ written with Paul Stewart, but his work is infinitely more varied and prolific. As well as writing classic picture books like; ‘Wendell’s Workshop’ and ‘The Emperor of Absurdia’, and illustrating Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’, in our house he is most famous for his series of books about Ottoline – which we love dearly.
There are only three books in the Ottoline series; Ottoline and the Yellow Cat; Ottoline Goes to School and Ottoline at Sea. We were very disappointed when no more were forthcoming.
Recently, however, he has published ‘Goth Girl and the Ghost of A Mouse’, which is in much the same vein as the Ottoline series, and which has mollified us slightly.
Goth Girl is published in the same fabulous format as Ottoline. The book is slightly smaller than a regular paperback, and a good, chunky hand full. The hard back edition, which is what we have, has glorious black and silver end pages with a wonderful skull design on. The book also has a miniature book tucked into the back cover. The whole thing is beautifully produced and a joy to own.
It tells the story of Ada Goth, daughter of Lord Goth. They live in Ghastly-Gorm Hall.
Ada’s mother is dead, and Lord Goth finds it hard to care for Ada, reminding her, as she does, of his beloved wife. Ada is pretty much left to her own devices, surrounded by a cast of wild and wonderful servants and the ghost of a mouse called Ishmael, who only Ada can see.
Ishmael tells Ada of his untimely death and the mystery that surrounds it, and late one night she and Ishmael set off to discover exactly what happened, uncovering along the way a strange and gloriously odd mystery that will change Ada’s life forever.
The whole book is lavishly illustrated with Riddell’s unique and perfect drawings, and is full of jokes, both for the child reader and the adult. There are numerous jokes about the Gothic convention and 18th Century writers, which will give you great pleasure if you know anything about either of these things, but not detract from the joy of reading the book if you don’t.
We loved this book. It is perfect for newly confident readers, and boys and girls aged about 7 to 12. Fans of Riddell’s work will want to read this no matter what their age, and if you haven’t come across his work before, this is an excellent example of why he should be a national treasure.
You can find out more about Goth Girl at the Goth Girl website here.