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
978 – 1534406292

The Bog­gart and the Mon­ster (Book 2)
writ­ten by Susan Cooper
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, 1997
978 – 0689813306

The Bog­gart (Book 1)
writ­ten by Susan Cooper
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, 1993
978 – 0689505768

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David LaRochelle
5 years ago

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