Deep Fear (Pure Dead) by Debi Gliori

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Deep Fear (Pure Dead) by Debi Gliori

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: It's manic, it's busy, it's funny and it'll give anyone over the age of twelve a headache. Gliori is an awful joke teller and quirky character creator without compare. The quality of the writing struggles somewhat, but children will be re-telling the jokes for months.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 336 Date: April 2007
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
ISBN: 978-0552550482

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Deep Fear is the last in Debi Gliori's Pure Dead series about the bizarre Strega-Borgia family: Luciano the hot-tempered Italian aristocrat, Baci his wife and failed witch, and their four children, computer geek Titus, technophobe Pandora, toddler and talented witch Damp, and Nieve, the new baby boy. The Strega-Borgias live in an ancestral pile in Scotland and have a whole host of companions - friends, servants, pets and familiars. Flora McLachlan is the nanny and a talented witch. Marie Bain is the (awful) cook. Latch is the butler. Tarentella is Pandora's pet spider. She's obsessed with female cannibalism of men. Ffup is the romantic but accidentally pyromaniac dragon. Tock is a crocodile who lives in the castle's moat. Basically, they're an eccentric and slightly dysfunctional bunch of well-meaning aristocrats.

The Strega-Borgia's problems really centre around Lucifer, Luciano's jealous half-brother, who's a bigwig in the Mafia and who is always trying to murder his sibling and steal his inheritance. He has connections to S'tan, head of Hades and boss of all the demons. One of S'tan's demons, Isagoth, usually brings torment and trouble to the Strega-Borgias.

In Deep Fear, Baci has just given birth to her fourth child, Nieve. Hades is in ruins - hell really is freezing over. S'tan has lost his chronostone, which has been hidden by the Strega-Borgia nanny, Mrs McLachlan. Isagoth is charged with getting it back. Lucifer is, as ever, determined to kill his half-brother. Stregaschloss is invaded by werewolves, demons, wicked Mafiosa and the baby is abducted - replaced by a vicious changeling. It seems that only the precocious toddler and talented witch, Damp, will be able to save them.

Oh good lord. It's seldom I can't get down and dirty with a children's book, but Deep Fear made me feel so old and haggard. It's like the Addams Family on speed. The cast of characters is huge, the plot and its myriad of sub-plots hurtle along like steam trains and there are at least three dreadful jokes in every paragraph. I just couldn't keep up. Sometimes, too, the quality of the writing suffers. This is a very visual book and the concentration isn't on elegant prose; it's on quirky characters, lots of action and lavatorial humour. On a personal level, I really didn't much like Deep Fear. It was just too tiring to read. But then, truth be told, I am old and haggard. Nobody really cares whether or not I like it. I'm just the moaning minny in the corner.

My sons fought over who would get to read Deep Fear after me as soon as it arrived. They both gulped it down in ten seconds flat, and they both thought it was great. Little soundbites and catchphrases have made their way into their vocabulary - if I send them to tidy their rooms, I'm addressed as "Yes, your Inflammableness" for example. It is, to them, a tres cool way of calling me Satan. They repeat all the jokes. They love the quirkiness and eccentricity of the characterisation - which I agree is absolute genius. It is, I suppose, pure and high-spirited escapism, together with enough bottom jokes to keep every child in class laughing for at least a week.

I didn't enjoy Deep Fear, but they did, they really, really did, and that's what's most important.

My thanks to the publisher - I think! - for sending the book.

If your child likes gruesome and camp in equal mixtures, then Darren Shan's Demonata series will appeal.

Buy Deep Fear (Pure Dead) by Debi Gliori at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Deep Fear (Pure Dead) by Debi Gliori at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Deep Fear (Pure Dead) by Debi Gliori at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Deep Fear (Pure Dead) by Debi Gliori at Amazon.com.


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