Ada Goth solves a mystery.
Ada lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her reclusive father, Lord Goth. Since her mother passed away, her father can barely stand to spend time with Ada, so she spends her days hanging about, keeping to herself and staying out of the servants’ ways. One night, the ghost of a mouse named Ishmael comes to visit Ada, and together they work to discover the truth behind strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Ada is supported by twisted and kooky characters, and the author delights in bending this odd world close to the breaking point. Riddell peppers the story with literary references older readers will chuckle at, but the jokes never come at the expense of the enjoyment of younger readers. The mystery is a bit flat: the sinister gamekeeper is clearly up to something, and the author never suggests otherwise. In compensation for this narrative bust, the characters do more than their part to make the book one worth reading. Future installments are welcome as long as they involve governess Lucy Borgia, pals Emily and William Cabbage, and the Attic Club. The illustrations complement the twisted world nicely. The characters (the humans all seem to be white) are all drawn with fine, squiggly lines and detailed with precision. A small, removable novella, Memoirs of a Mouse, is tucked into a pocket in the back cover.
A promising start to a weird new series. (Mystery. 8-12)