Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Birdie is apprenticed to Alfred the Bogler.  A Bogler is someone who traps and kills bogles, terrifying monsters that eat children.  Birdie is the bait.  It might not sound like a great job, but it much better than living on the streets in Victorian London.  When orphans begin disappearing off the streets in London, there's no one to pay Alfred to catch the bogle.

This was great.  It had everything you could want.  Scrappy orphans.  Tough little girls.  Pickpockets.  Monsters.  Adventure.  Daring-do.  Mad scientists.  It was totally delightful.

Birdie actually quite enjoys her job, there's a lot of pride in working for a Bogler.  She worries about when she'll be too old to help Alfred.  Bogles only go after children.  She also worries, a bit, about being eaten.  She doesn't worry about this nearly as much as you'd think.

We see Birdie have closer and closer escapes as the stakes are raised.  A few times she hardly escapes with her life.  And then, of course, there is the crazy Dr. Morton who thinks he can catch a bogle and make it do his will.  Birdie realizes it's not just the monsters she has to be afraid of.

Birdie is tough little girl.  She's determined not to let anyone take her job away from her, not even concerned adults like Miss Eames, who are willing to take her in a give her proper music education.  It's tempting, but Birdie doesn't like Miss Eames butting in, with her scientific ideas that involve catching bogles with other bait than a little girl.  Birdie thinks Miss Eames is just trying to put her out of a job to make Birdie come live with her.

This is a middle grade novel, and it won't be for everyone.  Not all kids want to read about child-eating monsters.  But it really had just the right level of horror.  The bogles that Birdie comes up against are described is terrifying detail.  We hear the stories of poor kids disappearing.  But we never actual get a scene with a child being eaten by a monster.  It thought it was just right.

This is a great one to add to you collection.  It's the first of a trilogy, although I really think it could stand by itself.  I hope the other books in the series are just as good.

How to Catch a Bogle comes out September 3, 2013.

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