Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Rat Run gets a five star review.


Described as a children’s fantasy, akin to Aesop’s fables, the story begins with a peaceful evening in the kingdom of one group of rats, as they prepare for the arrival of the ‘right’ female for the King’s son to ensure alliances and a secure future. Princess Shamrock and her escorts have a dangerous journey to undertake from their own realm, in order to arrive at King Pierro’s, and an escort party will meet them half way to ensure her safe arrival.

The reader is then presented with the nightmare many rat owners dread, and if we anthropomorphised, we could readily believe fancy rats might have nightmares about too: wild rats invading fancy rat territory and battle! Death and injury remove any complacency the reader may have entertained as to the story being gentle and ‘cosy’.

The suspicion and distrust between the three kingdoms has been a fact of life for as long as any rat can remember. However one rat feels it’s time to change that: unwilling at first, he embarks upon a quest to find an answer to the disputes and constant fighting between the fancy rats and the wild rats.

The fact that the wild rats suffer prejudice and try to unite with fancy rats to improve themselves and find acceptance is a key to the solution. As is the acknowledgement that not all wild rats are bad and not all fancy rats are good.

The section where small, terrified Timere undergoes the Rat Run is skilfully and believably constructed, seeing everything from his perspective. The experience proves life-changing for him, as we know events can prove to be and we see his character grow as a result.

There are several segments to this story, keeping the reader interested and ever drawn in to the narrative, as different elements raise the level of anticipation and complexity. What might have been thought ‘obvious’ decisions are not always taken by the characters, and this adds to the depth of the book. Dissent and rebellion happens, and forgiveness has its place too.

Y.I. Lee gets a lot into this book, as it can feel there are several books within this one story, but the narrative flows easily and it is a pleasure to read, with plenty of heart-warming details.


-Lesley Mackness

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