When the bogle hissed, she knew it was caught. She knew she was safe. And she turned just in time to see Alfred strike his blow.
He speared the monster from behind, while it was still intent on reaching Birdie. But it couldn’t. The salt was stopping it. And before it could even try to retreat, Alfred thrust his staff into its flank.
Birdie’s has a beautiful voice – which is good, because it is this voice which allows her to make a living. But she’s not onstage, nor even singing on street corners or in public houses. Instead, Birdie makes her living singing for bogles. When Alfred Bunce, the bogler, needs to lure a bogle out from hiding so it can be destroyed, Birdie is the bait, singing it out of hiding. It’s dangerous work, but Birdie is happy.
But two very different women threaten Birdie – and Alfred’s – way of life. Miss Eames is a well to do lady who is intrigued by the study of bogles, and wants to learn more – but also wants to remove Birdie from the danger of the bogles’ path. Sarah Pickles is not a lady. She runs a gang of pickpockets and wants Alfred to destroy the bogle that has taken three of her best boys. But when he’s done that, she may destroy Alfred, too. Bridie soon finds that she may need Miss Eames’ help to save Alfred.
A Very Unusual Pursuit is the first in a fabulous new fantasy series from Catherine Jinks. Setting the story in Victorian London, Jinks does a superb job of bringing the time period to life, with poor houses, sewers, a grubby underworld and the contrast between rich and poor, combined with the fantastical element of gruesome, truly frightening bogles.
Whilst suitable for younger readers, the execution and subject matter mean the story will appeal to teens and adults, too.
A brilliant start to an exciting new series.
A Very Unusual Pursuit (City of Orphans), by Catherine Jinks
Allen & Unwin, 2013
Available from good bookstores or online.