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With "The Headless Bust", Edmund Gravel and the Bahum Bug from Gorey's "Dispirited and Distasteful" Christmas tale, "The Haunted Tea-Cosy", have returned to usher in the New Year. The story, told in verse, takes up just after Edmund's riotous party. He and the Bug are whisked off to a faraway village for another round of strange and vaguely eerie encounters. Fans of Gorey's distinctive ink drawings, tending toward the well -dressed and slightly mad, will not be disappointed - they make for an engrossing book with or without the accompanying deliciously odd text. ("Reversing at a tango tea/In Snogg's Casino-not-on-Sea/L-- tripped and cried,'I am afraid/They tampered with the marmalade.'") There is also plenty to be had for aficionados of the mysterious little rituals, mentioned nonchalantly, that seem so logical to the inhabitants of Gorey's bizarre world - the Bandage Folder's Ball being a head-cocking highlight. "The Headless Bust" is perfect for a winter's read by the fireplace, just before drifting off into fruitcake-induced dreams. Ali Davis
NB The sub-title has the word 'on' on the cover and the word 'for' on the title page, both in Gorey's script.