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by Alex Milway and illustrated by Alex Milway

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-316-02454-9
Publisher: Little, Brown

In a dangerous, pirate-infested port city, Emiline, only 12 but already a skilled mousekeeper, looks after the valuable mice her mysterious employer collects. When the opportunity arises, intrepid Emmeline steals away to join a privateer on his expedition to hunt down a feared and legendary pirate who harbors mice in his beard. Full of surprises and old-fashioned plot twists, this quirky debut novel unfolds in a mist-shrouded, Dickensian world in which human beings and mice are interdependent. Intelligent and ingenious rodents serve as companions, employees, servants and slaves to humans. Some become sea serpents when doused in water; others grow fur of pure gold. The storytelling is occasionally awkward and disjointed, the characterization often sketchy, but this original narrative has a goofy charm enhanced by a vivid alternative-historical setting reminiscent of Joan Aiken’s work. Affection between humans and mice softens a story filled with human skullduggery and double-crossing. The abrupt ending and untied plot threads promise a sequel. A good choice for reluctant readers who don’t mind their books on the thick side. (Fantasy. 10 & up)