Thursday, October 17, 2013

Something under the bed is drooling

Quite simply, a bogle is a monster.  There are many different kinds, but they generally live in dark places like drain pipes, fireplaces, caves, and cellars.  I had one under my bed when I was a kid, and although I was never harmed they generally eat children.  But Birdie McAdam is an apprentice to a bogler, which is someone who gets rid of bogles.  She's only 10 years old and has the most beautiful singing voice.  All she has to do is stand in a circle of salt and sing to lure the bogle out.  She keeps watch in a small mirror for Mr. Bunce to give her the signal to move - quickly! - then he kills the bogle.  Yes, it's dangerous work, but at least it's honest, and a whole lot better than mudlarking.

I hope the author of How to Catch a Bogle (which I received from Amazon Vine) will forgive me but I thought this book was simply trying to ride Harry Potter's coattails and jump ahead of Ms. Rowling's anticipated 'Care of Magical Creatures' book.  "Bogle" sounds a little like "boggart" and it even mentioned "grindylows" early on, and Birdie is - of course - an orphan.  But despite those similarities, it's actually a very well-written and exciting story with shades of Charles Dickens' London, where children are exploited and the poor have few options.  Birdie and Mr. Bunce are engaging characters, and with each job the reader is drawn in and the suspense increases.  There are villains, too, and they're pretty mean and nasty, but there's just enough heroes to offset them.  Catherine Jinks writes with the appropriate accents and uses a lot of old slang from the Victorian (or is it 'Dickensian?') era which I found fairly confusing until I realized there's a glossary at the end of the book.  And the songs Birdie sings - while rather morbid - had such an air of authenticity I had to wonder if the author made them up or not as I rushed and neglected other things to finish this book.

So maybe there's a bit of Harry Potter with an Oliver Twist in the story, but it's a story well worth reading (especially if you've got kids to read it to).  I'm looking forward to the next one.

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