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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

The Enchanting Boggarts

The Dark is Rising

Whenever anyone asks the title of my favorite book, it’s a toss-up between two: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. A Wrinkle in Time because it opened the whole wide universe to my young mind and The Dark is Rising because I understood for the first time what a perfect story could be. I admire the writing of these two women enormously. But there are books by each of them that I had not read.

Followers of this column will recognize that I don’t enjoy books in which animals talk. I love fantasy but I couldn’t bring myself to read Watership Down or The Wind in the Willows. (I know. Gasp. I have now read The Wind in the Willows. And I didn’t care for it.)

So when I saw that Susan Cooper had published a book called The Boggart (1993), I made the assumption that it was about a cute critter. I didn’t read it. When the sequel came out, I couldn’t motivate myself to read The Boggart and the Monster (1997). Even though I have such great respect for The Dark is Rising.

Now the third book in the series has come out. The Boggart Fights Back was released in February of this year. The publisher has made the covers of all three Boggart books look even younger with their cartoon-like illustration drawing. But something about the phrase “fights back” made me curious. Isn’t it interesting how you can pick up a book years after it has taken up residence on your shelf, read it, and wonder what on earth took you so long?

WHY did I not read these books before? I finished The Boggart Fights Back in one sitting (it was that good) and immediately knew I needed to read the first two books. And even though The Boggart was written 25 years ago and it has a different feeling, I loved all three books.

In the first Boggart book we meet the children who live on the Loch in the western Scottish Highlands. The owner of Castle Keep has just died and the heirs, who live in Canada, come to visit. What will become of the Castle? What will happen to the traditions of this village, the close-knit community? And the Wild Thing that lives in the Castle, the Boggart? Invisible, not at all human, the Boggart is a trickster. He enjoys playing pranks on humans and animals, without care for feelings or destruction of property. He causes havoc! The story is lively, smart, and engaging. Susan Cooper writes with Wild Magic herself … and this book is imbued with the storytelling that young readers who crave more fantasy stories will gobble up.

In The Boggart and the Monster, Emily and Jessup Volnik visit Scotland once again, staying with the new owner of Castle Keep, exploring with Tommy Cameron, but they have a proper vacation, touring to Loch Ness in order to see Nessie, the monster.

It turns out that the Loch Ness monster is another boggart, a cousin to the boggart of Castle Keep! This book is exciting as Nessie hunters and children and boggarts are drawn to the same area. Will they be able to awaken Nessie to protect her? I really enjoyed this plausible explanation for the Loch Ness monster and, of course, this reader was cheering for the boggarts. (Who could have predicted that?)

And now, twenty-five years later, it’s the children of Tommy Cameron, twins Allie and Jay, who are staying with their grandfather, Angus Cameron, and exploring Castle Keep in The Boggart Fights Back. Angus owns a community store on the shores of the Loch. The Boggart and Nessie are timeless so they are dreaming up new pranks. In a story that is all too real for many people around the world, an American developer, William Trout, decides that the pristine charm of the Loch, the Castle, and the surrounding environs is the perfect place for his luxury resort and golf course. He moves right in and begins demolishing everything the residents cherish. Bulldozers, construction crews, they tear up the landscape. Can the children motivate the two boggarts to help stop the destruction? This book is grand. It’s funny, it’s appalling, and it is enveloped with enough magic to satisfy anyone who craves the very best in fantasy writing.

Why did I wait so long? I recommend that you do not.

The Boggart Fights Back (Book 3)
written by Susan Cooper
Margaret K. McElderry Books, February 27, 2018

The Boggart and the Monster (Book 2)
written by Susan Cooper
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1997

The Boggart (Book 1)
written by Susan Cooper
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1993

One Response to The Enchanting Boggarts

  1. David LaRochelle April 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm #

    I just reserved “The Boggart” at my library. I’m looking forward to reading it!

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