Weary “Go-Devil Man” Alfred Bunce and his uncertain apprentice, Ned, face a seemingly overwhelming plague of child-eating bogles in this busy trilogy closer.
In what amounts to a wrap-up volume livened by gross bits, Jinks sends her bogle hunters—with help from the ad hoc Committee for the Regulation of Subterranean Anomalies—into Victorian London’s dark nooks and noisome sewers after a series of shadowy menaces. She also sets ex-apprentices Birdie and Jem on to careers in the theater, trots in a country witch to explain how to mass-produce bogle-killing magical spears, consigns vicious butcher/crime lord Salty Jack to a suitably brutal fate, and ties off various other loose ends. Though en masse the darksome creatures seem less hideously menacing than the rare and terrifying haunts of previous volumes, here their toothy, tentacled bodies do slither chillingly enough into view and explode with satisfying violence, “like a gigantic pimple,” when speared. (One particularly memorable battle takes place in a privy.) Set pieces notwithstanding, though, the climax turns to more of an anticlimax as the growing crisis is averted via an authorial rationale that even younger readers may find hard to buy. An epilogue leaves the majors married or nearly married and Bunce in happy retirement.
Better in its parts than its whole—but even second-drawer Jinks tops the general run. (map, glossary of slang) (Historical fantasy. 10-13)