by Catherine Jinks
First line: “The front door was painted black, with a shiny brass knocker that made a satisfying noise when Alfred used it.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There’s a few mild swear words and some very intense moments. I’d put it in the middle grade (3-5th grade) section of the bookstore, but I’d be wary about giving it to a sensitive younger kid.
Imagine a Dickensian London, complete with orphans, pickpockets, unsavory doctors, toshers, and blackmailing landladies. And then add… bogles.
What are bogles, you might ask?
Well, it’s what our fair heroine, Birdie, and her master, Arthur, call the paranormal creatures that they get rid of for the people of London town. Not everyone believes in them, but Arthur and Birdie know one thing: if there’s children disappearing, it’s most likely a bogle.
(I’ll let you read the book to find out how to catch them, though.)
There isn’t much plot to this one in terms of plot; Birdie and Arthur catch bogles until they meet a woman of Society who decides that bogle catching is an unsuitable occupation for a girl. (Birdie objects.) They catch more bogles until things become Sufficiently Dangerous (that’s when the unsavory doctor comes in). There’s a bit of excitement, a kidnapping, and some hauntings before it’s all over. No, this one’s mostly about atmosphere. It’s a dark book — bogles are not nice creatures — and very much the dirty London of Dickens’ time.
I loved it.
I know: I don’t usually like atmospheric books, or Dickens for that matter. But the combination of a clever take on the paranormal and the plucky character of Birdie was enough of a combination for me to fall head over heels for this one. It’s a perfect stand alone story (though it — like many this Cybils season — says it’s a “Book one”), one that is perfect for those who love historical fiction as well as the paranormal.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)