HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013. 978-0544087088
Synopsis: Birdie McAdams is an apprentice for Alfred Bunce, a bogler who is responsible for catching and disposing of monsters that are more legend than they are reality. When a neighbor alerts Alfred and Birdie to the disappearance of several orphans around Victorian London, they strongly suspect that bogles are to blame. The pair decide to dig deeper, but what they find out about the reason behind the missing children may turn out to be even more terrifying.
Why I picked it up: I was intrigued by the premise of the book and I love historical fantasy.
Why I finished it: This book is rooted in the classic myths of the British Isles, but Jinks uses a number of uniquely imaginative elements to engage the reader and draw them into the world of the characters. Birdie is a bright, sharp, and endearing character, as is Alfred. They don’t gloss over their struggles, rather confronting the reality of a dangerous situation that both parties understand could end badly. We like the characters because they don’t have it easy, and they have to work to earn the respect they deserve, even if they don’t always get it. The minor characters are also likable and well rounded, giving the reader a reason to care for these fictional persons and root for them as the plot unfolds. Portions of the story do seem to move slowly, but each chapter is carefully crafted to build off its predecessor, creating the momentum and the edge that takes the reader to the final conclusion. I liked the addition of a glossary in the back of the book that explains some of the slang and mythos used throughout the novel. It’s not only helpful to those of us not very familiar with British History, but invites us to do our own digging and write our own stories. The first in a series, it is an engaging adventure that will have readers fully engaged until it is time to finally close the book.
Other related materials: A Plague of Bogles by Catherine Jinks; W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer; The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler; Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno; Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Terry Fan; Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente; The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente; Jinx by Sage Blackwood; The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White, illustrated by Andrea Offermann; Seraphina by Rachel Hartman; Books of Beginning series by John Stephens; The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black; The Very Honorable League of Pirates series by Caroline Carlson, illustrated by Dave Phillips