If I might add yet another subheading to the title of this most unusual book, it would be “or Whimsical Wit and Lyrical Nonsense,” because those happen to be the two most notable assets of this particular scrap of literature. The story is sort of a whodunit with very stylized characters and a not entirely predictable plot. It’s also a rather meaningless tale with a lot of random details and very little takeaway value aside from entertainment. But it is the very precise placement of well-picked words that make this story noteworthy. It’s rather nonsensical, but it’s whimsical, it’s witty, and it’s lyrical. And that makes the entire thing rather fun.
Everything started one morning when M’Lady Luggertuck ordered her corset loosened—an Unprecedented Marvel. The whole house sensed the Loosening, from the lowliest kitchen boy to the good lady’s son, and the deeds that followed were most unusual. They included thievery, a costume ball, a kidnapping by Shipless Pirates, and the beginnings of true love (on which it’s been decided we shall not dwell). We’re also treated to one young man’s honor, the loyalty of true friends, justice granted, and one young lady’s ability to judge wisely between suitors. All told, a very satisfactory and smile-inducing read.
I’d recommend Horton Halfpott for ages eight and up.
Horton Halfpott or the Feindish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset, by Tom Angleberger, 2011, Book Review