Review: The Bagman by Rachael Rippon

In the midst of the Second World War, Abigail is deposited at St Winifred's Orphanage for Willful, Wayward and Wicked Children. As soon as she arrives, Abigail is warned of the Bagman and what will happen if she misbehaves. But Abigail is too busy trying to escape to listen. Her estranged twin, Tabitha, is close by and Abigail has to find her before their 16th birthdays. Besides, she doesn't believe in the Bagman.
He believes in her though. Appearing when she least expects it; he asks her to play his Game. He will give her seven wishes to be used in seven days. But the Game is not as easy as Abigail supposes, and the wishes not as nice…
Soon, Abigail is getting exactly what she wished for. And the effects are catastrophic.
If you loved 'Coraline' or 'Alice in Wonderland', then you're sure to love 'The Bagman".

**Just to clear something up before you start reading this review, there are many bagman in the world this is set in, but this book deals mostly only one. When I talk about the idea of the bagmen, I'm talking about the idea as a whole. When I talk about the characterization of the bagman, it's about our bagman, the specific individual that this book is about. In italics, I'm referring to the title.**

It's been a while since I read a book that was in this kind of setting, mood and plot-type. The time period (WWII) isn't one that I read often. Generally, books that I tend to pick are set between the Victorian era and the 20's, a medieval setting, present day or future time periods. This book was a good one to read to get back to the culture that was present during WWII without dealing with the war a lot. (part of the reason I don't read war-time books is because they often end up talking about whichever war is happening instead of the story that the book is about. Sometimes it's fine, but sometime I want something different to read about) 

It took me a few chapters to get into The Bagman but once the pace picked up and the Game started, that was it. The plot was so intriguing, I just needed to find out what happened next. The characters were engaging and fun to read about, and the plot was completely unpredictable  which is a good break from other books I've been reading lately. Once the story got set up and I read through the first few chapters, the pacing was just right for me. Fast enough to keep me excited to read more, but not too fast that I couldn't think about what was happening.

Another thing that was done well in The Bagman was the rotating perspectives that some chapters had. Most of the chapters were from Abigail's point of view as she is our protaganist (and a very good one at that!) but every so often we have a shorter chapter from the Bagman's point of view to provide a bit of dramatic irony, a somewhat different story, and to give us information that we need to have but that Abigail wouldn't have a way of finding out.

My favourite part of The Bagman was THE Bagman. The whole idea of the Bagmen was one of the things that made me want to read the whole book. I didn't completely understand the Bagmen at the beginning, and I wanted to know more about them so bad that I had to keep reading. 

Originally, a Bagman is:

bag·man  (bgmn)
1. Slang A person who collects money, as for racketeers.
2. Chiefly British A traveling salesman.


which I find very fitting and a bit ironic as well. The bagmen in The Bagman do collect things, although it is a bit more serious than money. They are also, in a way, traveling salesmen, but these salesmen are ones that you really don't want to have to deal with, and not just because they'll try and guilt trip you into buying their newspaper or watch or whatever. And yet, the Bagman repeatedly made my feel sympathetic for him and root for him even though he was completely nasty. The characterization of the Bagman was perfect for the concept. He was mean, cruel and calculating, but still clever and, in a somewhat creepy way, patient and charming. Everything that the Bagman did fit right along with his character and what he was supposed to be. He made a villain that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about.  

Another thing that I liked was the lack of romance. Usually I like a bit of romance in my books, but it was nice to have something to read that had a completely different focus so the characters had different motivators.

The end of the book was ANOTHER good thing about The Bagman. It was the perfect mix of answers and new problems to keep me happy with what I had read and keep me excited to read the next book.

A favourite quote from the book: 
""Follow your gut instinct, that's the ticket to success. I know." Abigail supposed this might be true, as Mr. Bentley's gut was on the large side."

The Good: The Bagman/men, the ending, character perspectives changing, the plot
The Bad: Somewhat slow to start
The Verdict: 8.5/10
This book was supplied by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Rachael!



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