Review Blog

Aug 28 2013

A very peculiar plague by Catherine Jinks

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Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 978 1 74331 305 3
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Historical fiction. Fantasy. Adventure. The sights, sounds and smells of nineteenth century London rise up to meet the reader in this exceptional tale of Jem and Bridie, assistants to Alfred Bunce, a bogler, in his attempts to rid the area around Holborn Viaduct from a plague of wraths which rise up from the sewers beneath the streets and eat children. Amidst the noise of the building of this famous bridge, and the demolition of older buildings in the area, the building of the underground railway and the story of the sewers, Jinks cast her spell, drawing in all of her readers to revel in the squalor of the meat markets, the proximity of Newgate Prison, the link to the church where condemned criminals hear their last sounds from a priest, to the Viaduct Tavern where Bunce and his entourage wind down after killing a bogle.
Reading the first in this fine series,A very unusual pursuit, the opening of the City of Orphans series, I had no hesitation in believing the existence of bogles beneath London's streets. Now with a plague of bogles plying their grisly trade, Mr Bunce, who retired at the end of book one, must gather his apprentices to save the lives of children in the east end.
The description of the bogles emanating from the sewers is wonderful, and will readily entice readers to see what happens to the main characters as the detailed and lively story unfolds. This is fantasy at its best, a wonderfully engrossing story, sparkling characters, set against an identifiable and incredibly well described setting, with a wisp of fantastical creatures that erupt in the background. What a read.
Fran Knight

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