Orphans and awful relatives often make for a good read, and The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant is no exception. Anastasia has been whisked away from school and her life by two awful old “aunties” who say her parents have been seriously injured and then died in a vacuum cleaner accident. They spirit her away to their asylum/future bed-and-breakfast.
“St. Agony’s Asylum was in the throes of dilapidation, from its creaking towers to the dusty glass eyeballs staring from the animal trophies lining the walls. These marble eyeballs, in fact, were coming unglued from their respective faces and plummeting to the floor.” (LBD, Chapter 8, Eyeballs)
It didn’t take me eight chapters to start liking this book, but I loved this image so much that I described it to several people and had to go back to find it, just so I could chuckle again. I was also quite amused by the crazy things that intervened every time Anastasia was about to learn a big secret, and even though that particular secret was never revealed, I didn’t feel cheated. I’ll find it out eventually in a sequel, I suppose, and in the meantime, I’ll keep my distance from trophy animals with loose eyeballs, won’t I?
Looking for similarly dark and wacky middle grade reads? Try one of these:
A House called Awful End – Eddie Dickens trilogy, Philip Ardagh
A Whole ‘Nother Story trilogy, Cuthbert Soup
The Willoughbys, Lois Lowry
The Mysterious Howling and others from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, Maryrose Wood
The Bad Beginning and others from A Series of Unfortunate Events , Lemony Snicket
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken