Cover image for A house called Awful End : book one of the Eddie Dickens trilogy
A house called Awful End : book one of the Eddie Dickens trilogy
Ardagh, Philip.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, 2002.

Physical Description:
119 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
When eleven-year-old Eddie Dickens's ill parents become "a bit crinkly round the edges, " he is taken by his great-uncle and great-aunt, Mad Uncle Jack and Mad Aunt Maude, and embarks on adventures that involve strolling actors, St. Horrid's Home for Grateful Orphans, and a carnival float shaped like a giant cow.
General Note:
Originally published in England under the title Awful End. Faber and Faber, 2000.

Sequel: Dreadful acts.
Reading Level:
980 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.3 4.0 63084.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.9 7 Quiz: 33711 Guided reading level: U.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The first book in a hilarious, action-packed trilogy.
Eddie Dickens is sent off to stay with his aunt and uncle and a riotously funny comedy of errors ensues.
When both Eddie Dickens's parents catch a disease that makes them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly around the edges, and smell of hot water bottles, it's agreed he should go and stay with relatives at their house, Awful End. Unfortunately for Eddie, those relatives are Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud. . . .
This hilarious historical spoof, the first in the Eddie Dickens trilogy, has been called ""a scrumptious cross between Dickens and Monty Python.""

Author Notes

Philip Ardagh is over 6 feet 7 inches tall with a big bushy beard. Not only is he very large and very hairy, but he has also written around sixty children's books for all ages, though nothing quite like A House Called Awful End . . . until now. Currently living as a full-time writer with a wife and two cats in a seaside town somewhere in England, he has been--among other things--an advertising copywriter, a hospital cleaner, a (highly unqualified) librarian, and a reader for the blind.

David Roberts is so busy drawing pictures that no one is really sure what he looks like. We do know that he has illustrated several books for children and lives somewhere in England, but whether his home is near the sea or not is anybody's guess.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. This cross between Dickens (the 11-year-old hero is even named Eddie Dickens) and Dahl is clearly written with fans of Lemony Snicket in mind. Young Eddie must leave his home when his parents become ill with a disease that leaves them "crinkly around the edges" and smelling of old potato chips. So off he goes with bizarre Uncle Jack and Mad Aunt Maude into a series of outrageous adventures in which orphanages, a stuffed stoat, and an actor playing the Empress of China each play a role. This frenetic story, told in an arch tone, alternates between winsome and wearying, but fans of the Snicket style will probably enjoy the way the story speeds from one fantastical crisis to the next. The Edward Gorey^-like pen-and-ink illustrations add a macabre note to the hilarity. This is very short, but it is part one of a trilogy. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a starred review, PW called this debut tale in a trilogy starring 11-year-old Eddie Dickens, who is sent away to his mad aunt and uncle's home, "a tongue-in-cheek tale of a hapless youth. Kids who lap up Lemony Snicket's series will take quickly to this tale and clamor for the next." Ages 8-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-5-Eddie Dickens, 11, is sent to live with Mad Uncle Jack and Mad Aunt Maud. His parents, who suffer from a disease that turns them yellow, crinkly, and smelling of old hot-water bottles, warn him not to be mistaken for a runaway orphan or else hardships will certainly befall him. However, a series of nonsensical adventures involving an actor disguised as a highway robber ensue, and Eddie does indeed end up in St. Horrid's Home for Grateful Orphans. As he plots his getaway, his parents' house catches on fire. They escape, and discover that they are cured. While the setting attempts to evoke the 19th-century England of Charles Dickens, as well as the gallows humor of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, the meandering, nonsensical sentences and relentless asides to readers are tedious and overbearing. The pen-and-ink illustrations bear a faint resemblance to Quentin Blake's work, but are as mediocre as the text. The British-English glossary is amusing, but is the only highlight to be found within the headache-inducing prose.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



"Edmund," said Mr. Dickens, "you are to go with my uncle and live with him until your dear, sweet mother and I"--he paused and kissed Mrs. Dickens on the part of her face that was the least yellow and the least crinkly at the edges (a small section just behind her left ear)--"are well again. You must never wear anything green in his presence, you must always drink at least five glasses of lukewarm water a day, and you must always do as he says. Is that clear?" "Yes, Father," said Eddie "And, Jonathan," added his mother, for Jonathan was the pet name she called Eddie when she couldn't remember his real one. "Yes, Mother?" "Do be careful to make sure that you're not mistaken for a runaway orphan and taken to the orphanage, where you will then suffer cruelty, hardship, and misery." "Don't worry, Mother. That'll never happen," said Eddie Dickens, dismissing the idea as ridiculous. If only he'd listened. --from A House Called Awful End Excerpted from A House Called Awful End by Philip Ardagh All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.