Monday, January 22, 2007

GHOSTHUNTERS and the Totally Moldy Baroness

Last night, I read Ghosthunters and the Totally Moldy Baroness by Cornelia Funke. It's the third book in this series, newly brought over and translated into English, and it continues to rocket along. I remain puzzled by the complete absence of any mention of young Tom's family, since they were so clearly present in the first book, but hey, maybe they'll turn up again in the forthcoming fourth book: Ghosthunters and the Muddy Monster of Doom! Although it sure sounds unlikely.

In The Totally Moldy Baroness, Hetty Hyssop, young Tom, and their ghostly friend, Hugo, head off to the aptly named Gloomsburg Castle to help a couple of terrified caretakers defeat a multi-acronymed ghost, the aforementioned Totally Moldy Baroness who, strangely enough, earned her nickname while alive. And here I thought it was a reference to her decayed state.

Readers familiar with the series will be surprised to know that the Baroness fits multiple ghastly, ghostly categories. She's a HIGA (HIstorical Ghostly Apparition), a GHADAP (GHost with A DArk Past), and she fits in the GHADAP subcategory of a MUWAG (MUddy WAters Ghost), which does not mean that she plays (or sings) the blues, but which refers to her manner of death. As always, the write-ups on the various types of ghosts are vastly entertaining. But more interesting is that the Baroness is also a body nabber -- she can inhabit the bodies of living humans, and when she goes, leave them with a 24-hour case of the hiccups. She also trails mud wherever she goes (on account of being a MUWAG, I suppose), making me wonder why Funke put two muddy ghosts back to back in her books (what with number four featuring mud as well, evidently).

Tom steps up his game yet again in this recent adventure, demonstrating courage under extreme stress. And Hugo, at first smitten by the Baroness, really shines in this story -- and not just because he manages to remove the Baroness's ghostly head and chuck it out the window. Another fun romp of a supernatural mystery from Cornelia Funke. Given how much I'm enjoying this series as an adult, I can say without hesitation that I'd have loved this as a kid.

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