Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Very Unusual Pursuit Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Monsters have been infesting London's dark places for centuries, eating every child who gets too close. That's why ten-year-old Birdie McAdam works for Alfred Bunce, the bogler. With her beautiful voice and dainty looks, Birdie is the bait that draws bogles from their lairs so that Alfred can kill them.

One life-changing day, Alfred and Birdie are approached by two very different women. Sarah Pickles runs a local gang of pickpockets, three of whom have disappeared. Edith Eames is an educated lady who's studying the mythical beasts of English folklore. Both of them threaten the only life Birdie's ever known. But Birdie soon realises she needs Miss Eames's help, to save her master, defeat Sarah Pickles, and vanquish an altogether nastier villain.

Catherine Jinks, one of Australia's most inventive writers, has created a fast-paced and enthralling adventure story with edge-of-your-seat excitement and chills.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): An adventurous tale of a monster hunter, perfect for good readers 10 and up

Dearly Departed,

We are gathered here today to discuss A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks. When I was around twelve I fell in love with Jinks' Pagan Chronicles, a series about a young boy apprenticed to Knight Templar. And ten years later, when I returned to reading kidlit, I fell in love all over again with Evil Genius, a brilliantly written story about a young genius sent to a school for super villains in the making. Both books were very different, and nobody could accuse Jinks of sticking too rigidly to her subject matter!

Well, Jinks has done it again, this time with a middle fiction dark fantasy tale about a young monster trapper living in Victorian London. Birdie works for Alfred Bunce helping to lure creatures called Bogles (who eat children, of course) out of their hiding spots so they can do away with them. I loved how Jinks crafted the act of bogling, and the scariest scenes come from Birdie sitting in her salt circle, singing away as she watches behind her in a mirror, waiting for the dark and mysterious creature to slink down from its lair. But despite its dark touches, this isn't a terrifying book and can be safely given to most readers (unless they're particularly delicate).

For Readers: For confident readers 10+, especially girls. Great for fans of mysteries and light fantasy; some scary scenes, but nothing too terrifying.

For Writers: This is a fantastic book to check out if you want to learn about writing Victorian horror, or even how to create atmospheric horror with little gore.

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