Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death


Chris Riddell


Fantasy / Science Fiction


Date Reviewed:

August 13, 2022

da is the only daughter of Lord Goth, the famous cycling poet. They live in the vast rambling structure of Ghastly Gorm Hall, which has delightful locations such as the Dear Deer Park, the Whine Cellars, the Lake of Extremely Coy Carp and the Even More Secret Garden. The silly names are a good indicator of the humor in this series of books (Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death is the second book in a four book series by Chris Riddell, who both wrote and illustrated these children's books). Ada governess is a vampire, Lucy Borgia, who is teaching Ada how to use a fencing umbrella and how to slide down banisters.

Once a year, Lord Goth VI hosts a Full-Moon Fete and all the villagers are invited to the Hall (the celebration happens to fall on the day before Ada's birthday, and Ada likes to pretend that the Fete is really a special birthday party thrown just for her - her easily distracted father always forgets her birthday). This year, the fete promises to be a marvelous event - there will be a carnival, an exhibition of paintings (along with a raffle) and a bake off! It sounds exciting, and the entire Ghastly Gorm Hall is thrown into a whirlwind of preparation. Famous chefs and artists arrive on the premises, including a mysterious and ominous trio called the Grocers of the Night who arrive by hot air balloon. Because the sinister Maltravers is still employed as the indoor gamekeeper of Ghastly Gorm Hall, there is a chance that some misdeed is being plotted, but what crime could Maltravers have concocted this time?

The story has a lot of details that will intrigue young readers - Ada belongs to a secret organization, the Attic Club, of six children that meets weekly in a hidden location to compare notes and make plans. There are spies and secrets - Ada gets messages by carrier pigeon. There is a shy, lovable bear that hides in Ada's wardrobe closet. There are the vast and always surprising grounds of the Ghastly Gorm estate, where Ada and her friends explore.

Meanwhile, the text is loaded with puns and references that will amuse the adult readers.

The book is profusely illustrated. There are drawings on at least half the pages, and it is clear Riddell gets a kick out of drawing his silly characters and their exotic environment. The artwork is impressive - it has a humorous flair, and shows a lot of detail. Riddell is an excellent artist, a winner of multiple awards. In 2019, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to illustration and charity. I look forward to the next Goth Girl book!