Book Review

Book Review : Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset by Tom Angleberger.

There are so many exciting things in this book – a Stolen Diamond, snooping stable boys, a famous detective, love, pickle éclairs – that it really does seem a shame to begin with ladies’ underwear…

It all starts when M’Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset. As a result of “the Loosening,” all the strict rules around Smugwick Manor are abandoned. Shelves go undusted! Cake is eaten! Lunch is lukewarm! Then, when the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks search for someone to blame. Could the thief really be Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can’t tell a lie?

A colourful and hilarious cast comes together in this entertaining mystery, Tom Angleberger’s loopiest novel yet!

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.

Horton Halfpott is published in hardback by Amulet Books in the UK priced £9.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review : Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset by Tom Angleberger.

  1. What a wonderful title. That alone would probably make me want to pick up this book 🙂 There’s something so refreshing about reading a mg book.. I’m hoping to pick up a few in the next few weeks.

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