Review Blog

Mar 21 2013

A very unusual pursuit by Catherine Jinks

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2013 ISBN. 9781 74331 306 0
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Fantasy. Historical. The wonderful Birdie is a bogler's assistant in murky Dickensian London. Her master, the clever and brave bogler, Alfred Bunce, uses her as bait to draw the bogles out of their lairs: sewers, fireplaces, wells and the like, from whence they erupt to take away children to eat. Birdie's beautifully clear voice and small size attracts their interest and so lured, find they are surrounded by salt and as Birdie quickly escapes, Bunce pounces. The sometimes sticky end of the bogle will absolutely delight the readers of this delicious story, the first in a new series (City of Orphans) by this clever writer.
But Birdie is a little fearful of her position. Miss Eames, an academic interested in the bogles of London, has done some research and found that there may be other ways of capturing them, rather than let Birdie be the bait. The possibility of losing her work fills Birdie with dread, as the poorhouse and workhouses of London loom large. Jinks' research is obvious as she describes these places with malicious detail.
But it is not just Miss Eames that Birdie must be careful of, the nasty Sarah Pickles, a female version of Fagan from Oliver Twist, wants Birdie to join her warren, and this too Birdie views with fear and suspicion. And one night, after breaking into a doctor's house because of some missing children, repercussions of that night teach Birdies that not all people around her can be trusted.
A fascinating tour of Victorian London, Catherine Jink's impeccable research and interest in this period shines through. She beguiles us with the sights and sounds of the back streets where bogles and bogle hunters live, insinuating so much detail into the narrative, that no reader can have a doubt about the evil that lurks there. The second in this fine series cannot come soon enough.
Fran Knight

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