How to Catch a Bogle

Written by Catherine Jinks
Review by Kathryn Johnson

In Victorian London, children who aren’t born into “respectable” families – that is, wealthy ones – are pretty much on their own. Other than being a street sweeper, or mudlark, and combing through the Thames muck at low tide, there’s not a lot of honest work to be done. And even children must earn their meager keep. Birdie works for Alfred the Bogler. In short, she’s his bait for catching monsters capable of snacking on a less clever child than Birdie. She’s good at what she does, and brave as they come. Things seem to be humming along as they should for this young monster catcher. Until the day when it becomes clear that London orphans have begun to disappear.

This historical thriller, for readers ages 9-12, transports young adventurers to the grim world of 19th-century England. Author Jinks uses inventive language, brilliant imaginings, and appealing characters like Birdie and Jem to draw readers into a long-ago world. And yet the dangers, risks, and frightening possibilities of demise are in many ways no more or less real than those that today’s child faces in reality, or is subjected to in news reports. Our bogles – violence, drugs, bullying, predators, and terrorists – are just as terrifying as the worst of the bogles Birdie encounters. Any child reading this deliciously scary novel will instantly see the comparison. Just as easily, the reader will be charmed and entertained. A highly recommended novel.