The Coachman Rat

David Henry Wilson, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $13.95 (171p) ISBN 978-0-88184-508-2
The British author of the Jeremy James children's books puts a spin on the Cinderella and Pied Piper myths and turns ``happily ever after'' upside down. The eponymous narrator, fascinated by man's power over the world, lets himself be caught in a nonlethal trap and is transformed by a ``woman of light'' into human form. He is now Robert, the coachman who drives Amadea (former scullery maid) to the Prince's ball in a gold coach (formerly a pumpkin) pulled by six white horses (once mice). At midnight they all revert to their original forms, but our hero can no longer communicate with rats; he can talk with humans, however. Robert searches for the woman of light, who appears after Princess Amadea and the Prince are killed by a mob. Transformed to coachman again, Robert plots revenge on the town. Employing armies of rats, his vendetta turns out disastrously for everyone, including the tormented Robert. Comparisons between men and rodents are effective, and the story has the simple, propulsive feel of a real fairy tale. But not for children. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-671-72030-8
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