I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.
At some point I added this to my TBR list and forgot about it for a while until it popped up again and I really liked the cover- maybe it was the cover of a strange figure in a tophat carrying a bag and looking at girl through his spyglass. But now I have read it and it didnt let me down.
We find our protagonist in front of the gates of an orphanage following an incident with a pig at her last orphanage (no one was hurt...well at least not badly) so 15 year old Abigail Cobble was sent away to St Winifreds (or St Whiny Freds as the orphans who lives there calls it)
But Abigail has a reason to be where she is,and that is to find her sister who lives in the nearby village. If only she can escape the strict nuns,especially the malicious Sister Bruga who delights in punishing the orphans every chance she gets. The other nuns have nothing on her and content themselves with crushing the childrens spirits in boring and meaningless lessons.
At St Winifreds Abigail also meets shy Xanthe,Boyle the boy with the twisted leg,the cleptomaniac Tulip and her best friend Polly who likes to set fires.
Then there is the resident Bagman who lives in the shadows and is only mentioned in whispers, the belief in him is kept reinforced by the nuns as a means to control the
“The thing is,” Horatio said. “Whenever the Bagman is seen, things start going wrong.” “Like what?”
“Usually,” Polly said. “Someone disappears.”
Nobody was eating now. Horatio cleared his throat. “You see Abigail, it’s best not to stir up this kind of thing. It’s not good. It’s not good for anyone.”
But there is one thing they all know stay out of his way and -you never ever make a deal with a Bagman.
The Bagman is drawn to Abigail sensing his opportunity to make her his next contestant for his little game and orchestrates it so that Abigail is forced to accept the wager wether she likes it or not.
She will get 7 wishes to be used in 7 Days ,the first 6 has to be used on other people but the last one is hers alone. That is if she wins...if she loses she will be just another victim of the Bagman ((and another grisly addition to his home))
"But what do you get from this? You don’t get something for nothing ." Abigail said slowly.
"I told you it’s a game. If I win, I get your eternal misery."
"And if I win?" Abigail asked.
"You get happiness. It is a fair bargain, is it not?"
"Are there rules?" "Of course." The Bagman steepled his fingers and looked over them at her.
Or Abigail assumed he did, all she could see of his face was his long nose.
"None of your wishes must request that you win the game, or that I lose - that would be cheating."
Abigails past is a bit of a mystery that slowly unravels. She starts out as a confident loner of a girl who Thinks at first only of her own ambitions to find her sister but learns that her actions and wishes affect other people strongly. Sometimes in harmful ways. The point is that she grows and learns throughout the book wich is something I appreciate in a character. And yay for non obnoxious strong girl characters
This book has no romance but I didnt mind it so much its just felt felt right that it didnt have a token love interest and freeing up Abigail to be the strong heroine of her own story.
The period is not hammered down but more a light touch to the story You immediately understand that its not set in our modern age. Its mentioned at just one point that its set in 1943 and the war actually does figure in the story albeit briefly but in a way
The author apperantly got the inspiration from the expression "bagman" a traveling salesman and spun her story from there on
And the we have the Bagman who is an interesting creation . I dont want to reveal too much about him because it would spoil the story. But I can say I found him a scary and daunting foil for our heroine but also a complicated being. I admire the author for making me invested in his villainy problems while at the same hating his guts.
The ending of the book is adequate but its also left me hungry for the next book in the series to find out more about what it really means to be a Cobble and what the Bagmen will do next.
Oh and if I forgot to mention ....this book is free on Kindle. *devilish smile*