Raggy Maggie is the second book in Barry Hutchison's Invisible Fiends series. The books follow twelve year old Kyle through a series of forgotten-invisible-friends related catastrophes, with adventure, courage, magic and intrigue at the heart of the tales. I read the book a couple of weeks ago, after an overly-long waiting period trying to find the money and the opportunity to purchase it. Thankfully, the wait was worth it!
Was it as good as Mr Mumbles?
In my opinion... no. At least, not in every way. I loved the creepiness of the character Mr Mumbles, how he came into the story, how he was just so damn horrifying. And I do suppose that there is a similar creepiness about Raggy Maggie and her "owner" Caddie; Caddie's a five year old girl who some psychopathic tendencies, and combined with her ability to possess people and frustrate the environment around her with childish delight, she's a force to be reckoned with. You can't outrun her, you can't hit her (because she's a little girl) and you can't cheat in her "games". Mr Mumbles was all BFI (Brute Force and Ignorance) and sometimes overly ferocious, but he was manageable. You didn't have to try outsmart him, you just had to beat the living daylights out of him!
So yes, in some ways it's better than Mr Mumbles, but I think I enjoyed the first book more. The sense of adventure and the obvious nature of the fear invoked gripped me from the start. It took me some time to get into the sense of wonderment of Raggy Maggie, but it was still thoroughly enjoyable!
Would you recommend it?
I'd recommend that you buy and read first Mr Mumbles, and then immediately afterwards Raggy Maggie. And, because I'm sure it's going to be great, The Crowmaster, which I have yet to buy (and therefore read). The books are great horror stories, suitable for children of 9+ (though I sometimes say 11+ because they're scary!). The trauma of the horror doesn't last forever, and in my own professional opinion kids need to be scared every now and then. The adrenaline rush, the wildness of imagination invoked by fear, they're necessary for kids to grow up properly. And, if like me, you just like reading kids books, then all the better! I don't know anyone who hasn't liked these books!
What about the next book? Do you have high hopes for it?
Indeed I do! I haven't heard much about it from the author (Barry, if you're reading this, some comparison would be nice!), but it looks to take the reader away from the series' suburban setting and throw us into the wilderness of the countryside, where there are less people to protect Kyle from the straw-grip of The Crowmaster. Seriously, though, what sort of horrifying child imagines up an animated scarecrow?! That thing's going to be freaky as hell! Can't wait!