I was pretty gutted when I found out on Twitter yesterday that Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony is to be the last in the brilliant Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell. I have, as regular readers may know, a deep and abiding love for Chris Riddell’s work, whether it be his illustrations for other people, or his own work. I truly lost my heart to him when I discovered the Ottoline series, and my only consolation about the end of the Goth Girl series is that Ottoline is coming back.
The Goth Girl series is a thing of beauty and wonder in so many ways. The books are exquisitely produced, fat little hand friendly volumes with ribbon book marks, gloriously decadent end pages, treat mini books in every volume, and exquisite, full colour pictures on every page.
Then there’s the writing. In these books Riddell surpasses himself as an author who can appeal to every type of reader. The stories are whimsical, funny and adventurous enough to satisfy the most demanding child reader, while working at a completely other level for adults with their wonderful breadth of allusions to history and popular culture. They are just perfect.
In this book, Lord Goth, ‘mad, bad and dangerous to gnomes’, has decided to host a musical festival ‘Gothstock’, at Goth hall. As ever, Ada Goth, his daughter and her Attic Gang, are sure that Maltravers, the evil butler is up to something, and it’s their job to find out what it is and ensure that Gothstock goes off without a hitch. Added to this is a visit by Ada’s grandmother, who is scheming to marry Lord Goth off to one of the three society beauties she has brought with her. Ada disapproves of all of them, and has other plans for Lord Goth.
My favourite bits of this book are the wickedly funny caricatures of Simon Cowell as Simon Scowl, who brings his ancient orchestra to perform at Gothstock, and the beautiful depiction of Donald Trump as Donald Ear-Trumpet with his tiny hands and big cannon. I loved these so much I think they’re worth the price of the book on their own.