Jinks, Catherine. A Plague of Bogles
January 6th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Netgalley.com
In this sequel to How to Catch a Bogle, we find Jem Barbary at loose ends after he is fired by the grocer for eating cheese off the floor. When he is passing a sideshow, he hears Mr. Lubbock say that Birdie McAdam is working there, and when Jem finds out she isn't, he goes to find Alfred Bunce and tell him about the deception. At the same time, a bar maid finds Alfred and wants his help in getting rid of a bogle in the basement of the tavern where she works. Alfred agrees reluctantly, taking Jem with his as bait, because Ned is selling fruit (and Alfred is manufacturing fly paper in his flat). Soon, Alfred is besieged from all sides by people wanting help in dispatching bogles. Soon, even Birdie is brought into the efforts, even though she is living a cushy life with cakes and singing lessons at the home of Miss Eames. There are an unhealthy number of bogles around the new Holborn Viaduct building projects, more than would have been displaced by the building. Mr. Lubbock wants in on the action, and tries to convince Alfred to take paying "tourists" with him to the kills, but the bogles are becoming more and more horrific. Jem is glad to be working with Mr. Bunce again, and is using his spare time to try to hunt down Sal Pickles... who ends up being the key to the bogle infestation in a particularly abhorrent way. In the end, Mr. Bunce is hired (in an unofficial capacity) by the London Sewers Office to control the bogle problem. There is a third book out in Australia, A Very Singular Guild, but no idea when this will be available in the US.
Strengths: This was delightful, mainly because all of the characters were so plucky and undeterred. Sure, Jem may have no shoes and very little food, and his brand new jacket may get ruined by bogle goop, but he just keeps plugging away. Things aren't perfect for Birdie, and she whines a tiny bit, but only because she wants to be more useful. Whew. After all of the sad and depressing books in middle grade, reading about children being eaten by horrific monsters was cheerier than many books I've read in a while. Like Jonathan Stroud's Lockhart and Co., this series is an action packed sojourn in a rather seedy, but somehow still delightful London.
Weaknesses: Modern readers might not quite know what "baby farming" means, so a little more description of that would have been good, since a key plot point hinges on it. Still, readers who want monster tales will enjoy this.