By: Terence Blacker
Peter finds work catching rats for two very different characters. One, a doctor who is convinced that all of the diseases that rats carry will be the cause of our ultimate downfall; the other a rat catcher for pit fights who believes the creatures harmless. Peter lives with Caz, a young girl who ran away from a dance school that she was sold to.
Below the streets, the rat King has died. When a lowly taster, Efren goes to the world above to find out the fate of their King, he brings back news of just how much the humans hate them and how they plan on getting rid of them. Efren also finds Caz's pet rat, named Mailika as well as his gift for hearing and communicating with humans.
When Peter's doctor declares war and complete eradication of the rats, the children and the rats use their unique gift to help each other.
For a middle grade novel, this had a lot of graphic violence of killing rats, although probably very truthful to the time period early 1900's England. The writing brings feelings of compassion and a sense of great intelligence to the rats with their society and skills. However, the human side of the rats being disease carriers is also true. I liked that both sides were presented, but there needed to be more into how the two species can actually live together peacefully. Anyway, I did like the characterization of the rats and the device of how Efren and Mailika could communicate with Caz and Peter through 'revelation' or thoughts. The structure of the rat society was also very well thought out with the Twyning being a sort of governing body. Efren's eventual role within his rat society was nice and unexpected, a good character for beating the odds. The point of view shifts chapter to chapter between humans and rats and it took me a second to realize that fact. Both rats and children are safe at the end; however, there aren't really any answers given for how humans and rats will coexist.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.