The first thing that struck me about Goth Girl was how much the protagonist resembled my delightfully gothic little sister (I'm sure I'm not the only person who relates this character to someone they know, or even to themselves). The next was the beautiful format of the book and the way the illustrations meld with the text — something perfected over the course of the similarly-formatted Ottoline books.
Though the world of Goth Girl is a dark and appropriately gothic one, it is full of joy and fun. Ada Goth, whose Byronesque father Lord Goth seems to be something of a liability, finds adventure in every corner of the Goth mansion, along with many weird and wonderful characters: the writer, Mary Shellfish; the radical cartoonist, Martin Puzzlewit; and the painting movement, the Twee Raffelites. There is pastiche and wordplay galore in both the Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse and its sequel, Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death. Just when you thought the puns couldn't get any better, in September we have Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright. Surely even the earnestly gothic Emily Bronte would have tittered with dark delight, before going back to brooding over mysterious men stalking about over dales.
For other books on a similar level of junior fiction, check out the Ottoline books. Or how about the thrilling Barnaby Grimes series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell? Containing a bit of Victorian grime, some light horror, and a super-cool hero who free-runs across the rooftops of London, they are perhaps the perfect stepping stones towards Conan Doyle and Dickens. For teens, there are Stewart and Riddell's Wyrmeweald books, or the gorgeously illustrated The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, every page of which is a pleasure.