The Boggart Fights Back

224p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Feb. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534406292.
Gr 4–6—Young Jay and Allie Cameron's connection to the ancient Castle Keep runs deeper than just a summer trip to visit their Granda in the Scottish Highland village of Port Appin. MacDevon clan blood runs through their veins, calling them to do anything they can to protect Castle Keep. Of course, they have the Boggart and Nessie (yes, that Nessie), mischievous "Old Things" of Scottish folklore, pledged to their cause. The invader they face, however, is one many readers may recognize: a greedy, hyperbole-loving real estate developer named Mr. Trout who seeks to turn the pristine Scottish treasure of Castle Keep into the garish Trout Castle Resort, complete with a large golf course. The development threatens to wreak environmental devastation, destroy the local quality of life (including building a wall around Granda's store), and even turn the Loch Ness Monster into a cash cow. Cooper's well-crafted prose and pacing will engage readers, who will thrill to the cast of "Old Things" they meet, including the bacon-loving Caointeach, the rhyming Blue Men of Minch, and the decidedly less-than-friendly Nuckelavee: a half-man, half-horse skinless sea monster with quite a bad attitude. With its thinly disguised villain, though, even young readers may feel a little disappointed at how easily the story achieves its almost-pat happy ending.
VERDICT Solid middle grade fiction, especially for fans of Scottish folklore and previous "Boggart" books. Ripped-from-the headlines plot elements may engage some readers, though others might find the parallels less enjoyable.

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