A Plague of Bogles

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
A Plague of Bogles Book Poster Image
Second in fantasy trilogy cranks up the suspense and dread.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about London neighborhoods and how they changed over time; the history of the Holborn Viaduct; advanced vocabulary such as "architraves"; a glossary of terms, mostly London slang and U.K. folklore; and details about everyday life in mid-1800s London, especially for working classes and the poor.

Positive Messages

It takes teamwork to defeat monsters; trusting someone takes time but is well worth it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eleven-year-old Jem's past has led him to conclude that if you're not useful, you're expendable. He slowly learns how to work with and depend on others and how to place his trust in the right people. He thinks a lot about his life of crime, but he knows better and is able to resist temptation. Birdie, also 11, feels that by spending her time studying she's not being useful and that, therefore, studying is a waste of time. Alfred is gruff but treats the children in his care well.

Violence

Scary fantasy creatures called bogles live in dark places, eat children, and are described in detail as they try to snatch children. Main characters in many perilous situations trying to kill them. Half a dozen mentions of blood, but no detail. Past mention of a villain putting an ax through a man's gut and setting fire to a cellar. Baby farming is described, and it's speculated that a villain either sold babies off or fed them to bogles. Blows to the head, strangling, and kicking in the only fight described. A child is hit on the hand with a cane and gets a red welt and is slapped in the face. The waning of public execution as a spectacle is lamented, and people's need for blood sport is asserted by a minor character.

Sex
Language

"Hell," "damn," and "damned" once each.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes take place in taverns  and include frequent mention of beers, brandy, gin, port, and grog. Cold beer and a drunkard are each used in simile. Adult Alfred frequently drinks brandy. Birdie, 11, has watered-down port, and Jem, 11, always wishes for gin or brandy but is never able to get any. Various background people are mentioned smoking, a tavern becomes smoky, and Alfred lights a pipe once.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Catherine JinksA Plague of Bogles is the second of a planned trilogy, set in Victorian London, that began with How to Catch a Bogle. Here, the bogles -- scary fantasy creatures straight out of nightmares that hide in dark places and eat children -- are back in greater number. A boy and girl, both 11, are frequently in peril as they help to trap and kill the monsters, and there's a lot of suspense and genuine fright. Alcoholic drinks are mentioned frequently, especially as many key events take place in taverns, and the adult Alfred is frequently mentioned drinking brandy. Smoking or a smoky atmosphere in taverns is mentioned a few times. Only one instance each of "hell," "damn," and "damned."

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What's the story?

In London of the 1860s, many children are disappearing from the neighborhoods around Newgate prison. Some suspect bogles -- those scary creatures that hide in the dark and feed on children -- but they're known to be solitary. Eleven-year-old Jem, who's always wanted to be apprenticed to a bogle hunter, learns of the phenomenon and hopes that this is his chance to work for Alfred Bunce, London's greatest bogle hunter. Alfred wants nothing more than to retire, but when it's clear that more than a few bogles have moved into the area, he reluctantly goes back on the job. Even more reluctantly, he'll have to call on his former apprentice, Birdie McAdam, if he and Jem are to have any hope of stopping this plague.

Is it any good?

A PLAGUE OF BOGLES is a strong second installment that does justice to the first book, How to Catch a Bogle. Colorful, intriguing, and well-realized characters reappear, and equally delightful new ones are introduced. Just as vividly, Dickensian London's sights and sounds are brought to life. The pages will keep turning as the suspenseful plot brings even more chills and excitement. Jinks gives fantasy and historical fiction fans another big bite of the same delicious apple.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reading fantasies, especially scary ones. Why do we love them so much?

  • How did you expect the story to continue after you read How to Catch a Bogle? Did anything surprise you about this book or the characters?

  • What do you think will happen in the last book of the trilogy? What do you wish would happen?

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