Jenni's Reviews > Horton Halfpott; or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset

Horton Halfpott; or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; ... by Tom Angleberger
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May 04, 2011

really liked it
Read from May 04 to 06, 2011

I don't get to read many books aimed at the 8-12 market (I wish we had a cool term for this age band like the Americans who use Middle Grade) but when I do I tend to find myself thinking that I ought to read more. Most of the titles I've read are fun and fast-paced, Horton Halfpott is certainly no exception.

The opening pages are devoted to a map of the area around Smugwick Manor and drawings of the cast of characters. Each chapter also starts with a drawing of one or more characters, I found these entertaining and endearing. The book has 48 short chapters, I was glad there were so many as it meant I got to see so many illustrations.

The book is narrated by an unnamed narrator who breaks the fourth wall time and time again, often with a witty aside. This works well for the plot, it keeps it moving and adds humour to an already entertaining story. I can imagine that this book would work very well if it was read aloud, the way it's written certainly feels like it would lend itself to this.

The plot is a bit like a child friendly version of an Agatha Christie story. Something mysterious happens, a famous detective is brought in to investigate, more mysterious things happen and then the mystery is solved. The addition of a potential love interest for Horton acts as an entertaining subplot, the two are woven together very well.

The cast of characters are brilliant, there are quite a few but I found I could keep track of who was who pretty easily. A lot of them are caricature-like, but this works well within the style of the book - they're often outlandish without becoming over written or silly. I couldn't begin to pick a favourite character, there were just too many that I loved.

Horton Halfpott is a thoroughly entertaining read, I enjoyed every minute of it. Throughout the book other stories about M'Lady Luggertuck are referenced, I do hope that Angleberger goes on to write them.
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