Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Birdie McAdam is small and fair and sings like her namesake which makes her perfect bait for a child-eating bogle. And being 'prentice to Alfred Bunce the bogler beats most of the other options for a street waif in London in the 1870s. The bogle-exterminating business begins to get complicated when Miss Eames, whose hobby is folklore, wants to come along and watch.

Soon the story has typical elements of a Victorian melodrama, from hiding a kidnap victim in a lunatic asylum to a Fagin-like mistress of orphan pickpockets, plus an assortment of very nasty bogles. Indeed, one bogle was enough to send me around the house turning on lights. Jinks is expert at making the reader feel and smell the story details while maintaining a furious pace through the plot. She has also managed to invent circumstances where a Victorian girl having adventures seems quite reasonable.

The toshers and mudlarks of How to Catch a Bogle reminded me of Terry Pratchett's Dodger in which the author of Oliver Twist is himself a character. Magic Below Stairs by Caroline Stevermer shares the Victorian orphan and fantasy elements of Jinks' book. Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer introduces America's best-known orphan fending for himself. And as the book trailer informs us, there will be sequels to How to Catch a Bogle

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