Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘I reckon I know what a peeled mouse feels like, except them lucky little beggars only get to be skinned once!’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: This book is 90% rat sitcom, and I love every second. The arguments between Rancid Alf and Klakkweena are the kind of thing small, Deptford-cassette-listening me was imagining taking place between cultist couples over a decade earlier, and they’re a delightful (or should that be despicable?) antidote to the prim and proper mouse families of the original trilogy.
In terms of behind-the-scenes stuff, this book is notable for being the first since the original trilogy to have a heroine in the limelight. Yes, we had Ysabelle in The Oaken Throne and Edie in the Wyrd Museum books, but they co-starred with the male heroes. We will also have Lil later on, but at this point the Witching Legacy wasn’t due for another twelve years, so Fleabee counts as a break in the pattern. Furthermore, three years after Deathscent, Fleabee deals with a similar conflict: here is another gentle, troubled character, born to murder and bloodshed but not too happy about the prospect of killing things. (It’s amazing what you notice about these books when you read them in order of publication!)
So now we must ask: will Fleabee turn out to be an Audrey in miniature, perhaps not slaying the Unbeest and saving the world, but at least rising above her upbringing? Or is she just as much of a bloody-clawed little heathen as her family, deep down?
Matt’s Thoughts: And our first crossover characters from The Dark Portal arrive as Vinegar Pete and Leering Macky make a return. Which is a good time to point out that I really enjoyed the cast of characters in this book, with an illustration per character. For instance, I knew Leering Macky was a bit funny-looking, but who knew he had that epic squint? Mr Jarvis’ ability to come up with endless variants on these rat characters is quite impressive.
It’s all good fun, what with flaking scalps, overlong tongues, and ‘runny stuff with chewy lumps’, but we’ll see what happens in the great outdoors.