Review Blog

Feb 11 2014

A very singular guild by Catherine Jinks

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City of Orphans series, bk 3. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 978
(Ages: 9+) Highly recommended. Fantasy, London (1870's), Sewers.  Ned and Jem, the two apprentices of bogle hunter, Alfred Bunce, once more ply their trade beneath London, where sewers and underground waterways form the perfect hiding place for the bogles, ready to appear at any time to take, kill and eat children. In this the third in the series, Alfred Bunce is casually employed by the Board of Works to eliminate the bogles of underground London. At a meeting bound by agendas and motions and committees, Ned is surprised to see Miss Eames and Birdie MacCallum participate. Birdie had been Alfred Bunce's assistant for many years but is now in the care of Miss Eames, receiving an education along with voice lessons, but missing her association with Mr Bunce. Going to the theatre in Drury Lane sees the group enticing a bogle out of the sewers to be killed, but this one is unlike the others, so a sinister plot unfolds.
The background of Jinks' story is enthralling. London at the time was undergoing major rebuilding, with work being done on infrastructure such as transport, water and bridges. Ned's passionate interest in all things mechanical shows him asking questions of those people he sees using a new wrench, or a hydraulic lift, or pneumatic tyres. He observes all around him, and his character is so well delineated that we learn with him, without being aware of it.
The characters Jinks has created in this series, as in all of her books, are rounded and interesting, full of layers reflecting their histories and passions, their foibles and fears. The three children, Ned, Birdie and Jem are all undergoing changes in their lives, and when Birdie and Jem begin a career upon the stage, Ned is left with Mr Bunce, performing a duty which frightens him.
Accompanying Mr Bunce to Derbyshire sees the man visit the sister of his old employer and get the recipe for his spear, ready to make some more to kill the increasing number of bogles. But things do not work out as he hopes and more entanglement occurs in which the dreaded John Gammon reappears ready to strike. The thrilling conclusion lies at the heart of London in the Monument, built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London.
Fran Knight

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