cover image The Dark Portal: Deptford Mice Trilogy: Book One

The Dark Portal: Deptford Mice Trilogy: Book One

Robin Jarvis, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $17.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-58717-021-8

First published in Britain in 1989 and making its first appearance on American shores, book one of the Deptford Mice Trilogy is a spooky and enthralling animal fantasy just right for Redwall fans. In an abandoned old house known as the Skirtings in the London borough of Deptford, a colony of gentle mice lead tidy, sheltered lives, follow their ancient traditions and worship the Green Mouse (a kindly god who resembles the agricultural deities of ancient Britain). Meanwhile, deep in the foul recesses of the sewers, brutish ratsDwhose primary diversion is hunting and eating miceDtoil at endless digging. Jupiter, a villain par excellence, rules over the rats and emanates a nearly palpable aura of evil. These worlds collide when the mouse Albert Brown is magically lured into the sewers. Albert's daughter, Audrey, armed with a special ""brass"" bequeathed to her by the Green Mouse, ventures into Jupiter's realm to rescue her father; her brother and a band of loyal friends eventually follow her. Numerous hair-raising encounters with the bloodthirsty rats ensue, until at last the valiant mice come face-to-face with Jupiter in a climactic showdown. Jarvis provides counterpoint to the heart-racing adventure with scenes of haunting beauty, including Audrey's mystical encounter with the Green Mouse and the country mouse Twit's nocturnal flight over London. The author conveys a sense of place powerful enough to elevate the South London boroughs of Greenwich and Blackheath to requisite stops on any bookish child's literary tour of the British capital. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)