Pure Dead Wicked
Ages 10 and up
Random House, 2002, 0-440-41936-0
At first sight the Strega-Borgia family looks perfectly ordinary. There is a father, mother, three children, a butler, and a nanny. But when you go and visit them you will find that they are a little different from your everyday next door neighbour. For one thing they have a pet crocodile, a pet griffin, and a pet dragon. Then there is the fact that Signora Strega-Borgia is learning how to be a witch and the cook has a magic compact in her possession. There is also the matter of Strega-Nona, the family matriarch, who is residing in the freezer chest in the dungeons of the family home. No indeed, these are not your run-of -the mill neighbours though they do have run-of-the mill problems sometimes.
At the moment their chief problem is that the roof of their house, Stregaschloss, is a disaster area. There is nothing for it but for the whole family, with their unusual pets, to move out of the Stregaschloss while the roof is worked on. They decide that they will stay at the inn in a nearby village and from the moment when they arrive things start to go wrong. It begins when the dragon, Ffup, sets fire to the table cloth in the dining room. Then Titus, the son in the family, decides to clone his sister Pandora and the results of his experiments in cloning at quite horrific. Soon the inn is crawling with horrible little pink clones who have a mind of their own and who won't do what they are told.
Unbeknownst to the Strega-Borgias the man whom they have hired to work on their roof is not in the slightest bit interested in making their home liveable again. Quite the contrary - he is determined to make the house so inhospitable that the Strega-Borgias will be dying to get the house and its very valuable land off their hands. In the pay of a local developer who wants the Strega-Borgia land for himself, the roofer begins to wreck havoc in the house. One thing that he doesn't realise is that taking on the Strega-Borgia family can be very dangerous to ones health. In fact it can even be fatal.
This deliciously funny book will have readers laughing out loud at the terrible situations and messes that this wonderful family gets itself into. Sometimes they just seem to stumble into disasters and at other times they bring them about, though they always mean well. Packed with tongue-in-cheek humor which will amuse older readers, this is a book which will leave the reader with a smile on his or her face long after the last page is read.
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