There are more – and squishier – pumpkins in Vampires and Volts, but other than that it’s always Halloween at Castle Otherhand. It’s the kind of Goth/Halloweeny place that will never be normal, and where weird is the norm.
The Raven Mysteries written by Marcus Sedgwick and illustrated by Pete Williamson are – as the name suggests – about a raven. He’s called Edgar. He is so me that we could be brother and sister and I love him. And as Edgar is my dear brother, I don’t have a problem with him being a raven, or even a bird. I’m so pleased that we can finish this Halloween week of horrors with something quite sweet and funny, while still a wee bit creepy.
It’d be so easy to sniff at these books and dismiss them as brief entertainment for younger readers. They are extremely intelligently written; brief but using grown-up and mature words and sentence structure, which is the way forward for tomorrow’s readers. The humour in them is totally ‘adult’, and can possibly be explained by Edgar’s advanced years. He’s seen a lot.
The Otherhands are somewhat careless with their staff. They have so many, but they do go through them slightly too fast. It doesn’t do to call the people who supply them with maids and footmen several times a week. They will run out of prospective employees before long. And it would look better if they seemed to care when yet a few more maids snuff it.
Mum Minty is a wee bit lacking in the lady-of-the manor department for an ex-witch. Her husband is mad, but we expect husbands to be mad. Son Cudweed is dim and likes his food rather too much, but daughter Solstice is quite lovely. Goth and capable, and so articulate. Gasp. Gulp. And dear Edgar keeps them all going and assists at all times.
I read Flood and Fang when it first came out, and after that the Raven Mysteries piled up until I had a Raven weekend reading Ghosts and Gadgets, Lunatics and Luck, as well as Vampires and Volts, which is the latest one and out just in time for Halloween. But as I said, they are all Halloween books. And you don’t need to have read one before you read another. They stand alone very well. But you’d be an idiot not to read all. We all need some fun in our lives.