Thursday, February 07, 2019

American Mogul Mojo Meets Old Magic: The Boggart Fights Back by Susan Cooper

Big, bald Mr. Trout stood up, beaming, one hand on the boat's windshield, peering at the rocks. "Hey! Seals! It'll be a perfect side trip from the hotel--perfect--come swim with the seals, folks! We'll give them snorkels and flippers!"

The helmsman said politely, "Seals are a protected species in Scotland, Mr. Trout."

William Trout snorted and waved his free hand. "So what? Dolphins swim with people all the time at my Florida resort! And here's our biggest selling point--the castle!" He flung out his arm in a sweep toward the very small island.

It was not much more than a rock itself, but from the grass back rose the neat square shape of the oldest and smallest castle in all of Scotland, Castle Keep.

The twins Allie and Jay had just arrived from Canada to spend summer vacation with their Granda, who runs a store on tranquil banks of Loch Linnhe in the Scottish Highlands. But their first morning is ruined by the roar of two huge yellow bulldozers emblazoned with a large black T, piling up raw dirt into a berm between the store and the loch. It seems real estate mogul Trout has been secretly buying up the land around Loch Linnle to construct a mega resort, planning to level the green shores into a golf course and condos, dredging the little lake into a huge marina for luxury yachts, and taking over Castle Keep, where the twins know their friends the Boggarts--mischievous magic shapeshifters, one of which can take the shape of the Loch Ness Monster--abide and sleep over the long winters.

Allie and Jay make a secret midnight crossing of the loch to the castle to warn the Boggarts The last of the McDevon clan which once owned Castle Keep, the twins beg their friends to help save the Keep and the fragile lake. One Boggart is eager for action as Nessie as soon as Trout ventures out in his luxury yacht.

The Boggart said, "The man has to go. Watch me!"

In a great spray of water, Nessie broke the surface, his long grey-green neck towering over the boat. He opened his mouth, showing rows of alarmingly pointed long teeth, and gave a shattering bellow. Snarling, Nessie peeked down at William Trout, waiting happily for his shriek of terror.

But Trout wasn't scared. "It's the Loch Ness Monster," he cried. "We've got the Loch Ness Monster in our loch here! He's mine now. Just wait till I tweet about it!"

There is only one force, the sleeping powers of the Old Magic, which can stop the ruin of Loch Linnle and save Castle Keep. To rouse it, the Boggarts know that they must swim to the Western Isles and call out the fearful ancient beings, even the dreadful two-headed Nuckalavee, from their deep sleep, to bring justice and peace back to the little lake, in Susan Cooper's latest, The Boggart Fights Back (Margaret K. Elderry/Simon & Schuster, 2018). As in her earlier books in the series, The Boggart and The Boggart and the Monster, the Newbery-winning author (for her The Dark Is Rising Sequence: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; Silver on the Tree) creates adventure in lovely fantasy language which evokes the magical powers of the earth contained in ancient Celtic folklore in this story of modern greed meeting the ancient magic which guards the natural world.

Says Booklist, "... generations of family members and the timeless Scottish spirits are portrayed with finesse...The setting makes a powerful background, and its heritage and folklore provide story elements that are interwoven with modern-day reality in an unusually seamless fashion."

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