Susan Cooper,
The Boggart
(Simon & Schuster, 1993;
Aladdin, 1995)

The Volnik family can't afford to maintain the ancient Scottish castle they've inherited from a distant relative, so -- after a short but memorable visit -- they ship a few select pieces of furniture to their Toronto home and put the property on the market.

They could never predict that, among several old books stuffed in the top of a locked rolltop desk, they'd also bring home an invisible boggart. The mischievous being, confused by its new surroundings, gets right down to business -- and that means tricks, pranks and assorted tomfoolery. While the Volniks, particularly 10-year-old Jess and 12-year-old Emily, suffer a barrage of unexplained incidents and injuries, the immortal boggart learns to cope with the mysteries of weather-proofed homes, traffic lights, peanut butter, pizza and computer games.

Susan Cooper's The Boggart takes a fairly mundane plot idea and enlivens it with clear, witty prose and excellent characterization. The boggart in particular benefits from Cooper's skillful pen; rather than an anonymous imp, the boggart develops a distinct personality that is freshly unique. Its memory is short, but very long; its emotions are keenly and vividly felt but are blunted by its alien perspective on the modern world.

While Cooper is best known for Arthurian-based The Dark is Rising series, The Boggart handily demonstrates her facility for young-adult fiction in a less ambitious but no less enjoyable setting. A quick and easy read, The Boggart isn't likely to sleep on your shelf for long before waking and demanding to be read again.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 12 June 2004

Buy it from