Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Debi Gliori

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-81411-6
Publisher: Knopf

Plainly channeling Roald Dahl and Charles Addams through her own uniquely wacky sense of humor, Gliori dishes up as a successor to Pure Dead Magic (2001) an equally barbed, sidesplitting farce. After being nearly pulped by pieces of slate falling from the roof of their ancient Scottish manor, the Strega-Borgia clan—including its nonhuman retainers, some of whom are mythological—finds itself ruinously expensive temporary lodgings in the nearby town of Auchenlochtermuchty, while slimy building contractor Vincent Bella-Vista, under the guise of effecting repairs, removes the roof entirely to further a nefarious scheme. Meanwhile, young Titus Strega-Borgia’s plan to clone himself and his lippy sister Pandora with a process gleaned from the Internet goes badly astray, leaving him with not two hyperactive homunculi but 500, none of them toilet-trained. Relentlessly refusing readers a chance to draw breath, the author piles complication atop catastrophe (nearly each of which involves vast amounts of physical destruction), and while bringing everything ’round right in the end dispatches Bella-Vista, along with three equally squalid associates, in spectacular fashion. The body count may be high—especially considering that four out of five of the rapidly aging little clones die before the conscience-stricken Strega-Borgia sibs can get the survivors into cryogenic storage next to six-times-great grandmother Strega-Nonna—but that’s just one wild exaggeration among many in this pedal-to-the-metal page turner. (Fiction. 11-13)