Book Review – Dreadful Acts by Philip Ardagh
This is second book of the Eddie Dickens trilogy, and it has many of the same zany characters as the first one, A House Called Awful. Like the first, the prose of this book reads almost as if it was written a century ago. The narrator actively speaks to the reader, reminding them that they are reading a book. Here is an example where he’s talking about a list of characters:
‘I’m beginning to wish that we’d had one of those lists at the beginning of this book, but what’s to say that we can’t have one over halfway through the adventure?’
He then goes on to provide one and congratulates himself for how ‘classy’ it looks. He does things like this often, explaining the meaning of words he used, asking the reader if they remember something said earlier, and providing a page number to check if they don’t, and things like that.
Modern books on writing tell us the author should avoid intruding on the story, but I find this style rather quaint and charming, at least in lighthearted books for kids. A.A. Milne did things like this often. Of course, Winnie the Pooh was published in 1926. The first American edition of Dreadful Acts was published in 2003.
This short book (128 pages) is mostly about Eddie, a fairly normal young gentleman, and his interaction with several very abnormal adults. The plot is almost secondary, so I won’t go into it much. It’s really just part of the setting, after all, but it involves escaped convicts, stolen jewels, and a failed magic trick. It’s a quick, fun read. I recommend it. I’ll get around to reading the third someday, but the only copy my local library has was checked out when I picked up the first two.