Bagthorpes Haunted

by Helen Cresswell

Cover image

Series: Bagthorpe Saga #6
Publisher: Hodder
Copyright: 1985
Printing: 1998
ISBN: 0-340-71655-X
Format: Mass market
Pages: 216

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This is a direct sequel to Bagthorpes Abroad, picking up immediately after the end of that book and not providing any additional introduction. It feels very much like a single book split in half, so you don't want to read this one without reading the previous one (although since the Bagthorpes books are light-hearted humor without a lot of plot complexity, it probably wouldn't be that confusing).

This is my favorite of the first six Bagthorpe books precisely because it follows Bagthorpes Abroad immediately and doesn't bother reintroducing the characters or plot line. It has the least repetitive material and stock phrases of any of the first six and feels like it has half again as much action and hilarious scenes as the other books in the series. One still isn't going to confuse this with great literature, but even in the sixth book of a series with the same characters, Cresswell was far from tapped out for material.

Bagthorpes Abroad mostly deals with the hideous house that the Bagthorpes end up in for their vacation. Bagthorpes Haunted broadens the scene to the surrounding town and gives a much larger role to the unsuspecting inhabitants of Wales. The Bagthorpes are rather more than they know what to do with and their baffled shock of being in the middle of the floating Bagthorpes disaster is the best part of the book. Other memorable scenes include Mr. Bagthorpe getting rather too creative at an auction (a scene that instilled in me a deep fear of accidental bidding), an encounter with Welsh sheep, and the villagers' encounter with Billy Goat Gruff.

The Bagthorpe books are a sort of literary slapstick with enough irony, snark, and schadenfreude to fit my dark sense of humor but a light, good-hearted touch that makes them excellent comfort reading. They're also remarkably consistent in quality through a long series. This is one of the best entries, but they're all about the same. I recommend the whole series highly, particularly for pre-teen and young teenagers (the actual target audience), but I enjoyed them nearly as much re-reading them as an adult.

Followed by Bagthorpes Liberated.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2006-02-26

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