First the roof on their ancestral castle collapses, the Strega-Borgias are forced into the Auchenlochtermuchty Arms -- the only local hotel that will accomodate three mythical beasts and a crocodile. Evil contractors plot to destroy their home forever. Perhaps the miniature kilted warriors arising from a spilled magic potion can help....
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
December 31, 2001
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Pure Dead Wicked by Debi Gliori
Much later, Titus was to remark that this must have been the only time in history when a dirty diaper could be said to have saved several lives.
On that memorable morning, unaware of the terrible danger that hung over their heads, the Strega-Borgia family had been attempting to squash themselves into the interior of their long-suffering family car. Their shopping trip to the nearby village of Auchenlochtermuchty was long overdue, and consequently, all members of the family of two adults and three children were vociferous in their demands that they should not be left behind at home. Titus needed a computer magazine, Pandora had to buy something to eradicate a minuscule crop of pimples that had erupted on her chin, their baby sister, Damp, required more diapers, and their parents, Signor and Signora Strega-Borgia, had to go to the bank and do boring adult stuff.
As was usual with any planned expedition between StregaSchloss and Auchenlochtermuchty, the process of leaving the house was taking longer than anticipated. Boots and coats had to be retrieved from the cloakroom, Damp had to be supplied with a clean diaper and given a ration of crackers to stave off starvation, and Titus needed to render himself deaf to everything going on around him by the simple expedient of clamping a pair of headphones round his head and pressing the PLAY button on his Walkman.
Titus threw himself into the car seat next to Damp, turned up the volume, and settled back with a smile. From outside the car, where she stood with her parents as they went through the ritual of finding checkbooks and car keys, Pandora noted with some satisfaction that Titus's expression was changing rapidly to one of disgust.
"PHWOARRR!" he bawled, competing with the deafening sounds inside his headphones. "DAMP! THAT'S DISGUSTING!"
He struggled with his seat belt, desperate to put as much distance as possible between himself and Damp's odious diaper. Signor Strega-Borgia groaned, unbuckling his baby daughter and plucking her out of her car seat. Just at the precise moment that both Damp and Titus exited the car, the unthinkable happened.
A trio of vast and ancient roof slates that had clung to the topmost turret of StregaSchloss for six hundred years, held in place by little more than a clump of moss, broke free of their moorings and began their downward descent. Gathering momentum by the second, they barreled down the steep incline of the roof. It all happened so quickly that initially the family were convinced that, for reasons unknown, an invisible bomber had dropped its payload directly onto their car. One minute they were standing around the unfortunate vehicle, happily slandering Damp's diaper, the next they were lying groaning on the rose-quartz drive, wondering what had hit them.
"What on earth?" Signor Strega-Borgia picked himself and Damp off the ground and ran to Signora Strega-Borgia to check that she was unharmed.