Jinks leaves her readers eager for the next book in this trilogy. Birdie is ten, though she looks eight, and the best apprentice Alfred Bunce has ever had. Despite the creepy nature of her job – catching bogles (monsters here in the US) – Birdie is brave, true, and grateful. Catching bogles is nowhere near as bad as mudlarking, toshing, or just plain thieving. For one thing, there’s far less muck and filth (except when the bogle is killed) and two, there’s far less chance of being sent to the workhouse or jail.
For Birdie lives in Victorian times when poor children worked as hard – if not harder than the grownups – doing the disgusting jobs no one wishes to do. So even if she’s often hungry or cold, Birdie feels lucky. She has Alfred, who loves her after his own way, and a good job. But when she and Alfred meet a wealthy woman who’s interested in classifying bogles, Birdie begins to be afraid.
Not of the bogles – but of change. Miss Eames wants Alfred to try a new way of catching bogles, one that doesn’t involve Birdie and her beautiful voice. But Birdie isn’t sure that she wants to give up catching bogles. Even if means living in a posh house with beautiful clothes and all the cake she can eat. And Birdie’s afraid of Sal, the woman who runs a gang of thieving children. She’s been after Birdie for a while, and now she’s asking Alfred for help finding out what’s become of a few of her gang, who’ve mysteriously disappeared.
Jinks writes well. Her characters are believable and enjoyable, her plot moves at a page-turning pace, and she uses enough historical detail to be interesting and entertaining, but not boring.
Four stars for this one!