Scotland's favorite mischief-making spirit is back in "The Boggart and the Monster," the sequel to Susan Cooper's half-comedic fantasy "The Boggart." While this book moves a little too quickly, Cooper's sense for the fantastical makes it an entertaining, sometimes bizarre read.
The Boggart is back in Scotland, happily living in MacDevon castle, and playing pranks on the new owner. But then Jessup and Emily Volnik return to Scotland, and clue in the castle's relieved owner as to the nature of the family Boggart -- harmless, but loves mischief. But a trip to Loch Ness starts to mess things up -- Jessup and Emily encounter an investigator, working for an eccentric millionaire, who is trying to find the legendary Nessie.
The problem is, the Loch Ness monster is actually a boggart, who sank into depression and sleep after his castle was destroyed. Despite the urgings of the Boggart, Nessie can't change form for very long -- he keeps popping back into his monster form. Now the Boggart and his friends must tackle the best of modern technology, to keep Nessie hidden.
Like most sequels, it's best to read "The Boggart" before tackling "The Boggart and the Monster." But don't expect a stale rehash. Cooper gives her story about boggarts a new twist with the Loch Ness monster. What's more, she manages to weave in the legend of Nessie, without making it feel like a cash-in-on-a-mystery-creature book.
The story goes at a more breakneck pace than the first book, and at times it's easy to lose track of it. But Cooper's writing is vivid and compelling, bringing the lakes, hills and ruined castles of Scotland to life. And she gets into the heads of the boggarts wonderfully -- Nessie's loneliness and depression, and the Boggart's desperation and giddy enjoyment.
Jessup and Emily are nice heroes, not exceptional but well-drawn and likable. The Boggart himself is the scene-stealer -- one minute he'll be cheerleading Nessie, then pulling dog's tails, and making an ROV explorer do an underwater dance. And Nessie is a nice addition, a rather pitiful boggart who has lost his knack for boggartry.
Susan Cooper serves up a solid sequel in "The Boggart and the Monster," returning to the world of Celtic sprites and spirits. Fun and enjoyable.