THE CHRISTMAS RAT by Avi

THE CHRISTMAS RAT

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 10 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Eric Andrick’s Christmas visitor is anything but a warm and fuzzy bringer of holiday joys, in this suspenseful but heavy-handed allegory by a gifted writer. Four days before Christmas, Eric is home alone in the Eden Apartments, terribly bored, and waiting for the exterminator. Enter Anjela Gabrail, white-haired, black-clad, wearing a winged-skull logo, an exterminator who loves to kill and especially loves to kill rats. He enlists Eric in a strange and solemn compact, to kill rats or pay the (unspecified) penalty. In the next few days, as the outdoors cold deepens to mirror the chill of the Eden basement—described as a place that is “like going down into the land of the dead”—Eric and the mysterious Anje move from allies to opponents in a steadily more menacing game whose eventual stated purpose is the life or death of a common street rat. Although the nature of Anje’s hold on Eric is never made clear, Eric’s steadily growing fear is almost palpable, and readers will be relieved when he wins the deadly game with nothing worse than a bleeding scratch to remind him that killing is not a thing to do out of boredom. The allegory is hammered in, but the building of tension is very skillfully done, and readers who enjoy horror and suspense will enjoy the descriptions of the ambiguous Anje and his deadly serious game. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-689-83842-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2000




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