Book Review: How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Book Review: How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Title: How to Catch a Bogle
Author: Catherine Jinks
Series: City of Orphans, Book 1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 320 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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If ever a chill entered her soul, or the hope suddenly drained from her heart, she knew a bogle was to blame. Birdie McAdam, a ten-year-old orphan, is tougher than she looks. She’s proud of her job as apprentice to Alfred the Bogler, a man who catches monsters for a living. Birdie lures the bogles out of their lairs with her sweet songs, and Alfred kills them before they kill her. On the mean streets of Victorian England, hunting bogles is actually less dangerous work than mudlarking for scraps along the vile river Thames. (See glossary!) Or so it seems—until the orphans of London start to disappear . . .

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

This was one of the most delightful middle grade books I’ve read in a long time. I love fantasy books, especially those that deal in the real world and incorporate different mythologies, so How to Catch a Bogle drew me in right away. It has a Charles Dickens flair, focusing on Birdie, who was the daughter of a tosher and who is now an apprentice to Alfred the Bogler. Their first assignment brings them into contact with a proper lady, Edith Eames, who’s interested in creating a more scientific approach to catching bogles, especially since it’ll help keep Birdie out of harm’s way. Birdie hates it, but with the money Edith brings in, goes along with it, and finds herself learning some proper manners along with it.

I love Birdie so much — she’s such a strong, independent character who knows her own mind and is super smart. She’s completely confident in her abilities and completely trusts Alfred to keep her out of danger, which somehow made it tense for me as a reader when they were bogle hunting, because I kept expecting something horrible to happen. When they weren’t bogle hunting, though, Birdie’s interactions with the pickpockets and the boys who seem to be sweet on her is absolutely hilarious.

While How to Catch a Bogle gives a glimpse as to what life was like in Victorian England, it’s a book that’s based in pure, good adventure. There are tons of twists and turns, and plenty of creepiness with the bogle catching. There isn’t a dull moment in this story, and I cannot wait until I’m able to read the sequel. I definitely recommend this for those who like their fantasy books based in mythology. Middle graders and older readers alike will love Birdie’s strong spirit and the crazy adventures she has in this story.

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