Lavishly jacketed with a blinged-out silver skull pattern and shades of deep purple and black, Goth Girl appeals to the contemporary Goth look, whilst romping with abandon through the stock figures of Gothic Romance and horror writing from the 18th and 19th centuries. Readers in search of terse, neat plotting will be disappointed: Ada Goth’s mission to save her friends and reconnect with her father has as many bizarre twists and turns as the ‘metaphorical bicycle race’ and ‘indoor hunt’ that are the social highlights of the year at her home, Ghastly-Gorm Hall. The fun of the story lies in its exuberant madness, and its irreverent pokes at canonical literary figures (for example Mary Shellfish, Tristram Shandygentleman, the Byronically thrusting and melancholy Lord Goth).
Riddell’s black-and-white illustrations are dense with detail and visual play, with news clippings and footnotes (delivered by a severed foot with a quill between its toes) interspersed through the story. A full-colour miniature book, attached to the inside back cover, adds another dimension: the titular ghost mouse’s ‘Memoirs of a Mouse by Ishmael Whiskers’, a tongue-in-cheek recap of Gulliver’s Travels.
Unashamedly messy, quite mad and very witty, Goth Girl is highly recommended for readers with a taste for anarchy and word play.