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Literature / The Eddie Dickens Trilogy

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The Eddie Dickens Trilogy is a series of books written by Philip Ardagh, British author of children's books. In an author's note for American readers at the beginning of the first book, Ardagh claims that the books were written in installments of letters for his nephew Ben, who was away at boarding school. The plot of these books revolves around Eddie Dickens, a young boy living in Victorian England. Eddie is a boy of average mind, for his time, but unfortunately, everyone around him is inexplicably insane.

In the first book, A House Called Awful End, (Simply Awful End in the UK) Eddie's parents (who are suffering from an unnamed disease that makes them yellow and crinkly around the edges) send him off to live with his great uncle, Mad Uncle Jack, and his great aunt, Even Madder Aunt Maud. After an unfortunate incident involving a pocket watch and the Empress of All China, Eddie is sent off to an orphanage and must use his wits to escape.

In the second book, Dreadful Acts, Eddie's family has moved into Awful End with his aunt and uncle. Eddie falls in love with a girl and becomes involved in an unfortunate plot revolving around murderous criminals. This book involves the Great Zucchini, a giant fake cow named Marjorie, and British moors.

In the third and final book, Terrible Times, Eddie is sent to America on a ship. To his credit, Eddie expects the worst when his trip is interrupted by a criminal, a man called Jolly Roger, and the infamous Dog's Bone Diamond.

Was followed up by a second trilogy called The Further Adventures of Eddie Dickens.

This series provides examples of:

  • Companion Cube: Even Madder Aunt Maud carries around a stuffed stoat that she talks to. No one knows whether the stoat's name is Sally or Malcolm.
  • Happily Married: Despite being completely bonkers and living in separate buildings (one in a treehouse made of dried fish, the other in a cow-shaped carnival float), Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud are shown to be very happy together.
  • Hastily Hidden MacGuffin: In the third book, the villain hides the priceless Dog-Bone Diamond inside Malcolm, the stuffed stoat of Eddie's insane Aunt Maud. By the third book, Eddie has gotten so used to Maud being insane (and insisting that Malcolm is alive) that he no longer listens to her (especially when she claims that Malcolm is putting on weight and getting sick). In other words, Malcolm is so familiar to Eddie as to be invisible.
  • Market-Based Title: In America, the book's title was changed to A House Called Awful End because it is uncommon for homes to be named there.
  • Medium Awareness: Eddie's father knows he's a character in a book, and he doesn't seem to be very happy about it.
  • Noodle Incident: In A House Called Awful End, we're told of an incident on Eddie's sixteenth birthday involving a lady hypnotist called the Great Gretcha, which "is another story".