HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0544087477.
Synopsis: Jem Barbary spent most of his early life picking pockets for a wily old crook named Sarah Pickles—until she betrayed him. Now Jem wants revenge, but first he needs a new job. Luckily Alfred the bogler, the man who kills the child-eating monsters that hide in the shadows of Victorian London, needs a new apprentice. As more and more orphans disappear under mysterious circumstances, Alfred, Jem, and Birdie find themselves waging an underground war in a city where science clashes with superstition and monsters lurk in every alley. – from Amazon.com
Why I picked it up: The cover reminded me of a sort of historical fantasy novel, and since I am a huge fan of history and fantasy, I thought it was worth a read.
Why I finished it: This book seems somewhat unassuming at first, but quickly folds the reader deep within its pages and thoroughly engages them. In Jinks’ version of Victorian London, there is much more brewing beneath the city streets than the ordinary citizen could possibly imagine. Jem is a clever and resourceful hero that manages to achieve a series of somewhat lofty goals in a short amount of time. After being left as bait for monsters by his former employer, he finds himself attached to the same bogler that saved his life and gradually begins to formulate a plan to find the woman who wronged him…even if he’s really got no business going after her in the first place. And even if Jem and his companions seem to be drawn to the danger around them, there is still a sense of hope that things can be made right again. Jinks draws heavily on historical influences and folklore to anchor the plot and the setting, some of the terminology of which is included in a glossary at the back of the book. I also like it when authors can take a historical period and sort of make it their own because it forms for the reader a sort of alternate reality that if done right, can become totally plausible. It also piques the readers curiosity and plants seeds for them to do their own research into the myths and magic upon which the story is based – or at least it did for me. It’s a well-crafted narrative that is a wonderful second installment to the trilogy and I can only imagine what the final book has in store for the reader.
Other related materials: How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks; W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer; The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler; Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen; The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville; 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; Ms. Rapscott’s Girls by Elsie Primavera; 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