Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse (or GG&GM as it will henceforth be known) tells the story of Ada, who as the blurb says
lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous creepy house with.
But then she meets a ghost mouse called Ishmael and in trying to discover the circumstances around his untimely death (even for a mouse) she discovers that there is a nefarious plot taking place right under their noses.
Why did I want to read it?
I love Chris Riddell’s work. The physical book (which I’m lucky to have, bought it as a birthday present for myself) is a thing of beauty in its own right, not just because of the copious illustrations but the binding and endpapers and tiny book “Memoirs of a Mouse” tucked inside the back cover. And as a children’s book, even one with a Gothic sensibility, it was going to be way way lighter than most of my other October reads.
What did I think of it?
GG&GM was just totally delightful. I picked it up for some light relief then found I couldn’t put it down because it was just such fun. Ada is a wonderful creation, a girl who looks so much like her mother (Parthenope, a tightrope walker from Thessalonika who had died one night while practising on the roof) that her father needs her to wear huge clumpy boots so he can hear her coming and avoid her (only through his overwhelming sadness, which has led him to the view that children should be heard but not seen).
There’s a wonderful cast of supporting characters – vampire governess, indoor gamekeeper, the Cabbage children (Emily, a talented artist, and William, who has chameleon syndrome and can blend in with his surroundings), various servants and of course Ishmael who is sad and sweet and gets the whole plot rolling. Everyone has wonderful pseudo-Dickensian names and a range of interesting skills.
It’s really good story, and is also very funny in a silly way with lots of puns and nonsense names for things and invented creatures. There are footnotes with useful information, provided by
the severed foot of a famous writer who lost the aforementioned foot at the Battle of Baden-Baden-Wurttemberg-Baden
My favourite footnote (and they’re all very amusing) gives some context to Hamish, the Shetland Centaur:
Shetland centaurs are just one of a number of mythical creatures living in Scotland. The Glasgow cyclops and the Edinburgh gorgon are well known, but the Arbroath smokie, a fire-breathing mermaid, is more elusive.
That made me giggle a great deal, and if it made you smile too then you will love this book as much as I did. A real treat, and I already have my hands on the sequel.
This was my seventh read for RIP IX (and possibly my favourite so far but shh, don’t tell the others)