Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright by Chris Riddell

A review by Nalini Haynes

Ada Goth, the daughter of poet Lord Goth, is reading when she’s interrupted by a monkey shelving a book in her father’s library. After a few interruptions, she investigates to discover Dr Cabbage working on one of his inventions.

They drive down to the station in Dr Cabbage’s Difference Engine to pick up Emily Cabbage, Ada’s best friend and an assortment of others including Charlotte, Emily and Anne Vicarage, Georgie Eliot and Pipi Shortstocking. And don’t forget Sir Walter Splott and his dog Ivanhoe.

Superficially, Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright reads and looks like an entertaining little novel for children transitioning from picture books to novels with entertaining pictures and a lively story with friends, household mayhem and a mystery to solve. However, this is truly a family novel, with layers to satisfy even the most literary-minded person. Parents and grandparents will love reading this novel to their children and will require their own personal (undamaged) copy to adorn their Literary Bookshelves.

Although I take pride in the number of literary references I understood, I confess that occasionally I ‘heard’ a ‘boom, tish’ from the author without getting the joke. It didn’t detract from my reading but inspires me to keep expanding my literary knowledge. Chris Riddell needs to publish an accompanying volume citing all his literary references and puns. And please explain why Mr Christopher Priestly appears instead of, say, some historical or other contemporary iconic personage.

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright is a gorgeous little hardcover about the same size as Enid Blyton novels but with a nicer finish than any Enid Blyton book I owned as a child. The cover is tactile: partly matt, partly gloss, with some gilded lettering and decorative skull-and-flora edging on the front and back covers near the spine. The end papers are black with a gold skull-and-flora pattern. Normal pages are of higher-than-usual quality paper, edged with metallic blue. The novel comes with a ribbon bookmark. The cover is colored comic-book style and the many images scattered through the story are in black and white.

Altogether, Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright is a book that both children and adults can read and re-read. It’s an adorable little book that belongs on every bookshelf. I suggest purchasing at least one copy for the child and one copy for the adult in your life.

5 stars.

OMG. IT’S PART OF A SERIES. I NEED THE SET. IN GORGEOUS HARDCOVER.

ISBN: 9781447277897
Format: hardcover, 224 pages
Imprint: Macmillan Children’s Books (PanMacmillan)

Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright cover