This series was fast-paced and loaded with originality. The idea of a child-eating monster could have been told as a horror story, but came off more as a wild childhood adventure. The characters become a family; all coming from solitary paths.
Birdie shrugged. "Ain't no shortage o' vermin in this world. And I'd rather be a bogler than a rat catcher."
"But it's so dangerous, Birdie. So unsuitable for a child your age!"
Birdie couldn't help laughing. "I'd rather kill bogles than get black lung in a mine. I'd rather be a bogler's girl than work in a match factory and have me jaw eaten away by acid. Or get stuck in a chimney, or drowned in a sewer, or chopped up by a machine--"
"Yes, I understand that there are many children who must do perilous things to earn their keep," Miss Eames acknowledged. "It is a sad fact of life. But surely there must be another way of luring bogles out of their burrows?"
"No." Birdie was adamant. "Bogles eat children. All bogles do. Ain't nothing else they like so much."
Birdie is bait. Proud of the respectable living she makes for herself, helping to protect the children of Victorian London from the creeping monsters who snatch them from small, dark spaces when no one is looking. She stands in a circle of salt singing loudly with her beautiful voice until a bogle shows up for her, then she leaps out of harm's way as Alfred, the bogler she's 'prentice to, stabs them with his spear. She may be an orphan who was almost a tosher, but she's not your typical urchin.
Then the posh Miss Eames starts meddling in Birdie's business, trying to convince Alfred he shouldn't be putting her in harm's way. And Sarah Pickles starts trying to recruit Birdie to her gang of pickpockets. And, all the while, more bogles to lure and kill. There's no end of those wanting to lay claim on Birdie's life, and her exploits are just beginning.
Excellent pacing with plenty of excitement and wonderful use of language, this is a fun--if gritty--urban adventure. And Mandy Williams not only nails the audiobook accents, she adds in a large dose of lovely singing.
NYPL Staff Pick
What dark things lurk in the shadows of Victorian London? It’s all in a day’s work for young Birdie, who draws out the monsters for her master to kill. But not all monsters are the supernatural kind, so when children start going missing, it’s up to Birdie to put a stop to it.
Very fun, briskly-paced adventure with well-drawn characters and a well-done setting. I stayed up reading this, and I'm a grown-up! The bogles give a good sense of danger, but are not graphic horror-movie scary, so it's still good for younger readers. Birdie is a strong, clever, capable girl determined to take care of herself and her aging boss on the streets of Victorian London. She enjoys her work as the bogle-hunter's apprentice--basically serving as bait for the monsters so her boss can exterminate them--but will soon be too old for the job. Then some of the local street-kids start disappearing in strange ways, and Birdie and her boss get drawn into the search to find what happened to them.
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