The Last Bolger

Written by Catherine Jinks
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

This is the third and last in Jinks’ series about the bogler, Mr. Bunce, and his apprentices, Birdie, Jem and Ned. The time period is late 19th-century London. Bogles are horrible magical creatures that hide in sewers, chimneys and other shadowy places, where they capture and eat children. As such, children are needed as bait so an adult bogler can kill them. Early in this story, Jem and Birdie get jobs with the Royal Theater, leaving 10-year-old Ned as Mr. Bunce’s only apprentice (bait). The two battle a series of bogles, and Ned proves himself strong and courageous. Mr. Bunce wants Ned to one day replace him as bogler. Ned does not want to be a bogler, but is afraid to tell Mr. Bunce who has been so good to him. In addition to avoiding death-by-bogle, our group of friends must avoid Salty Jack, a dangerous criminal from the last book who wants revenge on Jem and Mr. Bunce.

Bogles are scary creatures and every battle is nerve-racking. Ned is a sympathetic character, and his interest in mechanics and engineering helps to bring to life the setting of industrial London. I hadn’t read either of the other books in the series, which was not a problem. The Last Bogle stands on its own as a fun, mildly-frightening historical fantasy for children ages 9-12.