The Boggart –

Centuries old and housands of miles from home When Emily and Jess Volnik's family inherits a remote, crumbling Scottish castle, they also inherit the Boggartan invisible, mischievous spirit who's been playing tricks on residents of Castle Keep for generations Then the Boggart is trapped in a rolltop desk and inadvertently shipped to the Volniks' home in Toronto, where nothing will ever be the samefor the Volniks or the BoggartIn a world that doesn't believe in magic, the Boggart's pranks wreak havoc, particularly for Emily, who is accused of causing psychic disturbances And even the newfound joys of peanut butter and pizza and fudge sauce eventually wear thin for the Boggart He wants to go homebut his only hope lies in a risky and daring blend of modern technology and ancient magic

10 thoughts on “The Boggart

  1. Latasha Latasha says:

    the story was ok. I know I was not the target age range for this book and sometimes that's ok but I think younger kids will like this more than I did.

  2. Keith (CHINNY) Chinn Keith (CHINNY) Chinn says:

    The boggart has lived in a decayed Scottish castle for centuries, making harmless mischief and shapeshifting into different forms. But when the elderly caretaker dies, the castle is inherited by the Volnik family, modern Canadians who don't know about the boggart. They arrive in Scotland to check out their rather decrepit property; the boggart decides to take a nap inside a desk... right before the desk is shipped back to Canada.
    A few references to The Loch Ness Monster, maybe not as good as the Archie Wilson Loch Ness books but still good. The age target was a little weird as some point I thought it was for 8 year olds and then it has some complicated chapters, I'm 14 and found hard to follow. Still a good read.

  3. Melanti Melanti says:

    I liked her Dark is Rising series, but I just can't get into this one.

    I wanted something light to read in between stories of a difficult classic but this just isn't working at the moment. I've been pecking away at it for about a week now and I'm barely to page 30. Normally for a book for this age level, I'd be to page 30 in under half an hour. It's just not holding my attention for more than a page or two at a time.

  4. Warren Rochelle Warren Rochelle says:

    I am a big Susan Cooper fan, especially of The Dark is Rising series. I read this book because I am interested in boggart lore and there is a fair amount here in this story of a Canadian family who travel to Scotland when the dad inherits a castle there. When they decide to sell the castle and go home to Toronto, they pack up some of the furniture. Inside a desk, the boggart was sleeping. Late 20th century Canada is a big surprise to the Boggart, practical jokester extraordinaire.

    There is a fair bit of the story that is predictable, beginning with the family inheriting a haunted (sort of) castle, as well as the shock of a creature of Wild Magic when he encounters the modern world. Besides the strong writing and engaging story, I was struck by the boggart as a sympathetic character, especially when he is finally able to tell them he wants to go home. The use of a computer game was clever.

    Middle school children and those a bit younger, 4th and 5th grade, who are interested in the fantastic, will like this book.

  5. Cass Cass says:

    My overwhelming impression reading this book was one of pleasant surprise. Though I've always enjoyed Susan Cooper's output in the past, considering how little is spoken about this one, I hadn't been expecting it to be as good as it is. The plot unfolds at a nice pace, and details from the beginning resurface at the end in an agreeably rounded denouement. I've given three stars because I believe I gave four to Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, and The Boggart doesn't quite achieve their level of soaring beauty, but it really is an excellent little story.

    The characters, while not particularly deep, are realistic and original. The villain is appropriately slimy and irritating in that patronizing niceness that grownups often overlook, and that every kid despises. The kids' mom is lovingly rendered: both sympathetic and exasperatingly overprotective, as a mom ought to be. Her son's layabout genius friend whom she so distrusts is a strikingly ambiguous detail for such a young audience, as is the hinted relationship between the two helpful theatre workers who first teach the heroes to call the 'weird stuff' that has been occuring by its name, 'Boggart.' Both these details, without intruding onto the story, add subtle layers of authenticity to the world.

    Some have complained about the use of technology in the story, saying that it dates the book and makes it irrelevant; but honestly, computer technology becomes outdated so quickly nowadays that by that argument one would have to avoid it in literature entirely, and it's scarcely the author's fault that nobody uses floppy discs anymore. I can't see that it detracts from the story in any way. I felt rather intrigued by the glimpse into a time when computer games were an exciting new invention being created by gangs of enthusiastic kids, rather than the massive industry of today. Cooper weaves science in with the magic in a surprising way, and in this as well as in the affectionate nod to show business invites comparison to Madeleine L'Engle.

    But the real heart of the story is the Boggart himself. With his satisfyingly mischievous pranks, his innocent delight in fun, and his alien mind (racing blithely, Tinkerbell-style, from one emotion to another, the ecstasy of discovery to brain-numbing sorrow to cheerful curiosity, within seconds) Susan Cooper's little scottish puck is a delicious realization of the trickster spirit.

    I wasn't a fan of this audio recording. The narrator just doesn't seem to grasp the frolicking, antic tone of this story; he is booming and august when he ought to be atmospheric, and recites the humorous bits as if he were reading a stern lecture--not in a dry, ironic way, but rather as if he slightly disapproved. He is also apparently under the impression that dramatic moments must be read at a shout, LISTEN TO HOW EXCITING THIS IS, as if the audience couldn't figure out for ourselves when something important is going on.

    However, this story begs to be read aloud. Its blend of whimsy, lightly poetic descriptions and slapstick humor make it excellent bedtime-story fodder. While not necessarily life-changing, it would make a great addition to a library; if you want a fun adventure and quality storytelling, you really can't go wrong.

  6. Joan Joan says:

    What a delightful, humorous, saucy melding of ancient mythologies and modern technology! The boggart is an ancient Scottish spirit that lives for mischief. However, sometimes the mischief goes awry and gets even the Boggart into trouble. The Boggart ends up in Toronto and while he has loads of fun...discovers peanut butter and pizza!...he also finds that he is very confused by modern life and ends up missing his home in Scotland. But how can an ancient creature of wild magic get across the Atlantic ocean? Even boggarts need help now and then! Now of course, I'll have to get the second book in the series....

  7. hedgehog hedgehog says:

    Nostalgia re-read 2018! I carried a couple of clear memories about this story: the Halloween costumes, and the ending with the computer game central to the plot. What my sheltered baby self skimmed right over was the gay couple in the dad's theatre troupe. :D I also didn't catch the undercurrent of tension with Barry, the high-school dropout.

    In 2018, the tech bits are hilariously dated; 2018 me also found the way the computer programming was handled to be written by someone who doesn't... know how programming works... There's a sinister subplot with a doctor that doesn't really go anywhere*, and the computer solution was kind of thrown in at the last minute. I feel like this book could have benefited from being a little longer. But the base story is still pretty charming, and I can see why this stuck in my head for so many years. Scottish castles! Computers! (Computalk LOL) Scottish penpals! Tricksy supernatural spirits! I love when magical creatures are truly Other, and the Boggart—sympathetic, but not a little unsettling in his lack of care for human safety, even as he considers the children 'friends'—qualifies.

    * I guess it sort of felt like a fourth wall thumbing-of-the-nose at YA stories where the 'hauntings' are really a metaphor for the Curse Of Adolescence etc. For me, nothing about this plot thread worked, especially the parents' reactions. You have a doctor who says your daughter needs to be locked up and your response is to ignore her distress and think this is a good plan, up until the point said doctor tries to profit off the case to the press?? It feels like the publicity is what sends Maggie and Robert over the edge and not concern for their own child, which is... uh... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  8. Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) says:

    An okay read for a sleepless night. Published in 1993 but it feels late seventies, with the media fascination for poltergeists, ESP, and the adolescent girl rage causes telekinesis trope (remember Carrie?) However, beyond a mention of the fact that the Boggart is a part of Wild Magic, Cooper manages to keep it all very light. Nobody's special, nobody's Chosen--it's a comic little story of Canadians dealing with an ancient Scottish spirit they have inherited along with the castle and the furniture. I got a definite The Canterville Ghost vibe, as the Boggart tries to make friends with the kids and just wants a little appreciation--but not the kind he gets from the creepy psychiatrist who wants to study the phenomenon. The little brother is a computer nerd with floppy disks and a B/W monitor, who creates a computer game that may or may not hold the answer. Their parents are so wrapped up in their own lives and work that they have very little clue as to what's going on, and don't get one throughout the book. The kids get on with their own affairs and as long as they're home on time for supper everything's jake.

    I see there's a second volume (naturally). I don't expect much from it, because there wasn't much here, but for a light frothy read it was okay. Much more humour than in the The Dark Is Rising Sequence, less angst and no attempt to down Christianity; it simply doesn't arise. It passed the time on a sleepless night and was entertaining enough.

  9. Grace Grace says:

    While finishing out my The Dark Is Rising re-read, I figured I'd pick this one up on the way down. Unfortunately, I didn't really like The Boggart very much. If the whole book had been like the first part in the Scottish village, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

    As soon as we left Scotland to go to Canada, though, everything just felt incredibly disjointed. I liked the Boggart, and the humans seemed okay, but I couldn't really muster up any interest for them? Serious things were happening (the Boggart almost killing people on accident, Emily almost getting committed to a psychiatric ward, the family relationships suffering as everyone blamed each other for the Boggart's problem-causing) but there was a weird dissonance between the type of things that were happening, and the sketchy, lighthearted tone of the book.

    The computer stuff was super confusing and weird, as well. Maybe it's just because it's old and I wasn't alive in 1993 to know what computers were like then, but half of it seemed to not even make sense, and the rest of it was a distraction from everything that really mattered.

  10. Misti Misti says:

    The Boggart by Susan Cooper -- When the old MacDevon dies, Castle Keep on a Scottish island is inherited by the Volnick family. They visit their legacy before putting it on the market, and inadvertently ship the castle's mischievous boggart back to Toronto. What will a creature of Old Magic make of modern technology?

    As you might expect, the computer parts of the story are solidly 1993, and some of the specs mentioned will give savvy modern readers a good laugh. Moving beyond that, it's obvious that Cooper is a master of her craft: the descriptions, the relationships between characters, and the emotion of the piece is spot on. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.