Pure Dead Wicked
by Debi Gliori
In this sequel to Pure Dead Magic
, all the good guys from the first book return (except that Marie Bain is on holiday in France). The adventure begins when a couple of slates fall off the castle roof and narrowly miss crushing the whole family to death. Signor Strega-Borgia calls in a roofing contractor who declares that the roof is okay but the beams under it are unsound, and quotes a heart-breaking six-digit sum as an estimate for fixing it.
Things go from bad to worse, because the contractor is a crook in cahoots with a real estate contractor, who wants to get hold of Strega-Schloss and turn it into a really tacky suburb or, perhaps, a toxic waste dump. So while the roofing contractor sabotages the family's picturesque ancestral home until it is on the verge of being condemned for mandatory demolition, the family takes up residence in a grossly overpriced hotel in the nearby village of Auchenlochtermuchty, where the witchy proprietress is trying to poison her own husband, steal somebody else's if possible, rip off the Strega-Borgias for all they are worth, and make their stay as miserable as possible.
It also turns out that she is one of the masterminds of the plot to get their home out from under them. (Her name is Ffion, which someone pronounces fee-YAWN, but which I think is intended to be pronounced "Fie on.")
But certain members of the Strega-Borgia entourage have other ideas. Particularly, the beasts Sab, Ffup, and Knot, the crocodile Tock, the rat Multitudina and her daughter Terminus, the spider Tarantella, a gang of tiny kilted warriors sprung from a spilled tincture of dragon's teeth, and 403 naked little pink clones created by Titus, Pandora, and Damp. And the kids themselves, of course.
The results are a bit gruesome, to tell the truth, and what ends up being really ironic is that the family thinks they have gotten away with something when, in fact, they have unwittingly prevented others from getting away with their home.
Gliori's books are wacky and modern and full of a dizzying combination of high-tech and low-tech wizardry, and adorable family values (plus the not-so-adorable stuff kids get up to when they're not thinking of others). Pure Dead Wicked ends with what is for me a bit of a mystery...what came out of the egg? Maybe if I could think like a Scotsman I would know. Or maybe I just have to wait for the third book to come out!
Recommended Age: 12+
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