The House Called Awful End by Phillip Ardagh
Age: 9-12 years old
Eddie Dickens is sent away to live with his Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud while his parents suffer from a strange disease that makes with yellow and crinkly and smell like old hot water bottles. Unfortunately for Eddie, traveling anywhere with a mad aunt and uncle is not as much fun as a young boy would hope it to be. Eddie soon sets off on a series of adventures and events in a book set in the late 19th Century.
For parents that consider A Series of Unfortunate Events to be too dark and dismal for their kids, this book is a good compromise. Ardagh’s play with words and puns creates characters that are irreverant, and ridiculous. Kids will find the incompetence of the adults to be entertaining in comparison to Eddie’s quiet and intelligent attitude. There are many similarities between this book and the Series of Unfortunate Events; the children are more competent than the adults, the children find themselves in dangerous situations based on the actions of their guardians, and the author even defines certains words and terminology in a similar fashion. While I think this book is a good alternative to readers that are not quite ready for the Lemony Snicket books, the Eddie Dicken’s trilogy is not the most original nor the most entertaining. Eddie’s mad aunt and uncle are more annoying than funny, and the same can be said for his parents. There is very little plot in this book as it is mostly filled with silly anecdotes and it really doesn’t feel like a cohesive story.
One thing to remember, is that this book was written for kids, not adults reading kids books. Lemony Snicket wrote for both parents and children, which is why so many more adults prefer that series. For younger kids, the Eddie Dicken’s trilogy will be an entertaining read.
The House Called Awful End
by Phillip Ardagh
New York : H. Holt, 2002, ©2000