Summary: Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset by Tom Angleberger is a silly mystery that is great for those times you truly want to read just for fun.
Horton Halfpott is a kitchen boy at Smugwick Manor, home of the Luggertuck family. Life at Smugwick Manor is very comfortable….if you’re a Luggertuck. If you’re a servant, you get the worst gruel, too much work, and almost no pay. Despite the hardships, Horton works hard and always does his best. He has to. His family depends on the meager salary he earns.
Life at Smugwick Manor changes one morning when M’Lady Luggertuck decides to loosen her corset. With the loosening of M’Lady’s corset, there comes a loosening of many of the strict rules that have controlled life at the Manor for years. And, even more shocking, M’Lady Luggertuck agrees to host a ball to help her love-struck nephew catch the eye of a wealthy young woman.
True chaos ensues when a family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump, is stolen. M’Lady Luggertuck brings in a detective to find the culprit and Horton finds himself set up to take the blame for this, and many other, missing items at the manor.
The book is full of funny asides to the reader, many of which reference previous adventures of the Luggertuck family. (None of which are actually available, but all of which sound hilarious!) Much like Lemony Snickett, Angleberger addresses the Reader often, giving a feeling of engagement and involvement, making it feel almost like a conversation between the narrator and the reader.
The other characters in this story are fun and there are hints of future stories for a few of them scattered throughout the book. Bump, one of the stable boys, is said to have royal blood flowing through his veins, but does not know it. (The reader knows, thanks to one of the narrator’s asides.) The shipless pirates add an additional element of hilarity to the proceedings. (First of all, they’re shipless pirates. That is funny enough. But their captain is also painfully honorable, for a pirate, leading to further chuckles.)
I highly recommend this book for a light afternoon read! I hope to see more from this author. There are so many promising sub-plots in this book that could be developed into full stories.
Grades 2 & up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: none
Nudity/Adult Content: none