Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Orphan Birdie McAdam, age 10, is apprenticed to Alfred the Bogler, who uses Birdie's angelic singing voice to lure monsters out of their hiding spots in sewer pipes or fire grates, then kills them with Finn MacCool's spear before they can kill Birdie. As risky as that sounds, Birdie loves her job, and she feels threatened when Miss Eames, an academic studying English folklore, starts accompanying Alfred and Birdie on their rounds and points out that Birdie's occupation makes other Dickensian-era job opportunities for children seem positively wholesome by comparison. This is top-notch storytelling from Jinks (the Evil Genius series), full of wit, a colorful cast of rogues, and delectable slang. The tension-fueled plot moves forward on two tracks as Birdie and Alfred face increasingly perilous confrontations with a variety of monsters, and Miss Eames makes Birdie an irresistible offer-music lessons and a place in her comfortable home instead of near-certain death. What will loyal Birdie do? Prepare to wait to find out-this installment is the first in a projected trilogy. Ages 9-12. Author's agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. Illustrator's agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Child-eating bogles infest Victorian London, providing work aplenty for "Go-Devil Man" Alfred Bunce and his intrepid young apprentice, Birdie. Singing morbid verses from popular ballads in her angelic voice to draw the shadowy creatures out of their chimneys, sewers or other lairs so that Alfred can stab them with his special lance, Birdie thinks she has "the best job in the world" despite the risk--she could be snatched and eaten if the timing is even a little off. Alas, the idyll doesn't survive a double set of complications. First, unctuous would-be warlock Roswell Morton, out to capture one of the monsters for his own evil uses, kidnaps her and plants her in an insane asylum to force Alfred's cooperation. Second are the unwanted but, as it turns out, saving attentions of Miss Edith Eames, a self-described "folklorist." Her navet about London's nastier stews conceals both a quick wit and a fixed determination to see Birdie cleaned up and educated in the social graces. The tale is set in a range of locales, most of them noxious and well-stocked with rousingly scary hobgoblins as well as a cast of colorful Londoners with Dickensian names like Sally Pickles and Ned Roach. It dashes along smartly to a suspenseful climactic kerfuffle as it endears its 10-year-old protagonist, whose temper is matched only by her courage in the clutch, to readers. Jinks opens her projected trilogy in high style, offering a period melodrama replete with colorful characters, narrow squeaks and explosions of ectoplasmic goo. (glossary of slang and monster types) (Historical fantasy. 10-13)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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