The Boggart

by Susan Cooper

Paperback, 1995



Local notes

PB Coo




Aladdin (1995), 208 pages


After visiting the castle in Scotland which her family has inherited and returning home to Canada, twelve-year-old Emily finds that she has accidentally brought back with her a boggart, an invisible and mischievous spirit with a fondness for practical jokes.


Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 1996)
Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 1997)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1996)
Mythopoeic Awards (Finalist — Children's Literature — 1996)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Fiction — 1995)
Nutmeg Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 1996)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 1995)
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee — 1996)
Flicker Tale Award (Nominee — Picture Books — 1995)
Maud Hart Lovelace Award (Nominee — 1998)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

208 p.; 5.24 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member FinnyB
Though set in Canada and Scotland, rather than the England, Cornwall, and Wales of Cooper’s more famous The Dark is Rising Sequence, and though more modern in tone, with computers and other technology readily available (in Canada if not always in the parts of Scotland the Volnik family visits)
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and Arthurian legends nowhere in evidence, The Boggart retains the magic of Cooper’s earlier works. And, like The Dark is Rising Sequence, though The Boggart is technically a children’s novel, it also holds something for those of us who, while chronologically out of that age range, are still children at heart.

Perhaps it is because many of us, like Emily and Jessup Volnik (age twelve and ten, respectively), have had past, or present, experience with parents, and other adults, who do not understand that some things, as with the “virtual unicorns” in Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters, have to be believed to be seen. Like L’Engle’s unicorns, the boggart of Cooper’s novel is not readily visible to human eyes (unless he chooses to be so), yet he, and his actions, have very definite—and, in Toronto, rather innocently malicious turned inadvertently dangerous—effects on his surroundings and the people living there. Effects that the Volnik sibling’s parents, and others in the city, attribute to Emily, despite both her and Jessup’s frantic assertions to the contrary.

This experience, of being disbelieved despite telling the truth, is one that many people have in common, and in combination with the boggart’s mischievousness and nearly palpable homesickness, and the believably sympathetic (or not so sympathetic, in the case of the psychologist interested in Emily) characters, makes The Boggart a book that is well-worth the read.
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LibraryThing member rotheche
Utterly endearing. Susan Cooper's long been one of my favourite authors and she's lost none of her charm: this book is eminently readable even for an adult. The depiction of the Boggart is effective - it's no sweet Tinkerbell, but a thing of ancient magic and no morality - and the family the
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Boggart encounters is equally well-drawn. The computer technology is...well, a bit dodgy, but I can forgive that for the rest of the book.
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LibraryThing member LeslitGS
Emily and Jessup always figured themselves to be a pair of normal teens living a normal life until their mother inherits a castle from a distant relative in Scotland. After they visit and come back home, however, the kids find out that they inherited a bit more than the building and furnishings. A
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boggart, a mischievous creature straight out of the myths, is trapped and shipped with Emily's rolltop desk. Having been living in a castle with no modernity, the boggart immediately begins acclimating himself to the new toys of technology and wreaking absolute havoc on the family. And now the kids have to get the boggart home before things get too crazy.

Susan Cooper is not an uncommon name in the library circuit, best-known, perhaps, for her Dark is Rising series, this book was not only my introduction to her, but a staple through elementary school and something I revisited off and on thereafter. Until only a month ago, however, I did not own it. Thank God for little second-hand bookstores filled with unexpected treasures, right? Right.

While all of the humanoid characters are pleasant and relatable, one of the most enchanting aspects of this novel is the depiction of the boggart itself, within its home castle. A nameless, genderless spirit thousands of years old, witness to history itself, not only of the castle but the land surrounding. It is, in a sense, emotionless. Yet, at the same time, when it finds an emotion, it is overcome--to the point of hiding and sleeping for days or weeks [it has the ability to sleep for decades, if the fancy strikes]. Without being human in feeling, the creature manages to be easy to connect with. Especially after the charm of the new world wears down to the nub.

The story is deliberately paced, walking the reader through introductions and establishing the settings while steadily moving through the the plot. As with other texts that were favorites from childhood, this did not hold up quite as well as I might have hoped. Aside from being heavily dated technology-wise [the desk-top was a black and white screen, and I have a splendid recollection of DOS programs that supply amusing filler for how it must have been intended to appear], the text is almost too simple and too easy to read to be enjoyable at advanced leisure reading. Not being a particularly difficult novel, it is not something that a reader will have to dig through, but rather glide along. Though I mentioned I enjoyed it years afterward, I would say it was as a refuge from the reading or scholastics at the time. For purely 'heck, I'll read that one again''s lacking.

But if you haven't experienced it, Cooper is fun. Someday I'll read that Dark is Rising series and really get what she's about as a published writer. Or something like that. If you're in fourth or fifth grade, it might just be something you'd enjoy.
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LibraryThing member ChazziFrazz
Boggart - an ancient, mischievous spirit, solitary and sly.

The Vonik family, Emily, her 10 year-old-computer-nerd brother Jessup, parents Maggie and Robert live in Toronto, Canada. When a cable arrives from Scotland informing them of Robert's inheritance of Castle Keep from a distant uncle, the
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Voniks take a trip to find out exactly what this inheritance is.

The family arrives to find Castle Keep is a small, deteriorating structure on its own small island in the Western Highlands of Scotland. They fall in love with the area and the life, but do have to return to Toronto. Rober is the artistic director of the Chervil Playhouse and Maggie owns Old Stuff, an antiques shop.

The family brings back some furniture item for themselves and some to sell in Maggie's shop. Unbeknownst to anyone, the Boggart has also come to Toronto. Seems he fell asleep in a desk that is to go in Emily's room.

When the Boggart awakes, he finds that Toronto is nothing like the world he has lived in for the many centuries of his life. This new world is scary and yet there are many delightful things. He sets about pulling his old tricks to amuse the Voniks, but finds that the world he is now in has no clue to what and who he is.

Will the Boggart stay forever in Toronto, or will he be able to return to Scotland and Castle Keep?

This was a fast read for me, but I took my time just to enjoy it. I found I cringed at some of the pranks the Boggart played, knowing they wouldn't go over well, and yet I wished I could have seen them.
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LibraryThing member abcornils
This is a fun book that I read to help prepare my son for Battle of the Books. I hope he enjoys it. Only criticism; it could have been longer.
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
The Volnik family has picked up a boggart from their anscestral castle in Scotland, and suddenly the boggart’s tricks go from silly and upsetting to dangerous. The children, Emily and Jess finally manage to get the boggart out of their lives and send him back to the castle in Scotland where his
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harm is minor.
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LibraryThing member meerka
Very juvenile, but in a fun way. House spirit gets moved from Scotland to Toronto and must convince children he exists and they must help his return. Very beautiful portion where Boggart takes control of lighting in theater.
LibraryThing member StefanY
The Boggart is a fairly entertaining young adult novel. It's a fast paced story that is difficult to put down yet still challenging enough for young readers. The characters are easy for kids to relate to even if the technology referenced throughout the book is very outdated by today's
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While visiting their inherited castle in Ireland, the Volnik family mistakenly traps and takes the castle's boggart back to Canada with them. Strange occurrences begin to happen from the moment of the boggart's delivery and the family becomes more and more stressed out by these increasingly unexplainable happenings.

This was a quick, fun read that I would recommend for 4th through 6th graders. There is no really objectionable material and only some mild violence. I found the storyline to be engaging and not your typical run-of-the-mill ghost story. The author does a nice job of allowing the reader to become sympathetic towards the main characters including the boggart and there is some good humor included throughout the novel.
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LibraryThing member bookczuk
I picked this up because I love Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, and wanted to try something else of hers. Once again, she's got magic and mayhem together blending history and modern day (though in actuality, the story was written nearly 2 decades ago, and the changes in technology,
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particularly computer technology, were apparent.) Still, it was a fine story, and combined enough folk lore to keep me reading. There are apparently more in the series, but I may not go on. So many books still to read out there, and I'm not getting younger.
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LibraryThing member bookwren
What is a boggart? You may remember the one in Harry Potter, who is a shapeshifter. The boggart in this story is similar and likes to play pranks. He lives in an old castle in Scotland and causes minor trouble. But when he is transported to modern-day Canada, chaos ensues. Emily & Jess are the only
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two who know the boggart is real. Can they help him return to his homeland? I love this story because it combines old-fashioned magic and the magic of science. The boggart is both funny and wise. I recommend this book to readers who love fantasy set in the modern world.
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LibraryThing member pussreboots
The Boggart by Susan Cooper is about a mischievous magical creature who suddenly finds itself in Canada. After the death of the old Laird and his dog, the Volnik family — distant relatives — inherit the old Castle Keep.

The Boggart's main problem is ending up with a family who doesn't believe in
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magic. As the castle didn't come with instructions re magical beings, his pranks both at the castle and later in in the Volnik's home go unnoticed at first. Rather than stop (as that's not in its nature) he resorts to bigger and bigger pranks until they become dangerous!

Although the book is dated (especially in terms of the computer hardware that's central to the plot) it's still an enjoyable read. I listened to it on audio and found myself sucked right in.
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LibraryThing member keebrook
i started reading this to my son but stopped within 2 chapters. it's not Bad but there are several things about it that don't jibe with Good Writing, in my opinion. also, my son was nonplussed by the whole thing and wanted to move on to something else for a while. we may come back to this book
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someday but, for now, it will live on the shelf.

at this moment i give what i've read of the book a solid "meh" with tendencies towards "nevermind."
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Nice story - interesting characters, including the Boggart who is nicely alien. Chance and circumstance play a large part in events; and a lovely happy ending. I'd read it before, I noted, but I didn't remember any of it.

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½ (203 ratings; 3.7)
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