Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Book One, the Deptford Histories

by Robin Jarvis

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-58717-257-7
Publisher: SeaStar/Chronicle

The first of three prequels to the popular Deptford Mice trilogy details the dark backstory of the malevolent feline mage Jupiter. But this tale’s hero (unusual for Jarvis) is human: young orphaned Will Godwin, adrift in the perilous London of 1664. On the run from a false accusation of murder, the boy falls into the clutches of the alchemist Elias Spittle. Virtually enslaved, kindhearted Will rescues a cat and her three newborn kittens, unwittingly triggering a tragic sequence of sorcery, betrayal, and violence. But the few sympathetic characters serve as little more than foils to the various villains, splendidly drawn, displaying all the hues and shades of evil. Spittle especially appears at first to be a mere caricature of vicious buffoonery; but plummeting from spite to necromancy to madness, he draws the cats inexorably into his diabolical descent. Jarvis’s florid, purple-tinged prose presents London—with her filthy alleys and crime-ridden alehouses, her overgrown cemeteries and plague-haunted streets—as a major player in the unfolding disaster. Meanwhile, ghastly revelations pile upon grisly tableaus as the plot hurtles towards a spectacular final conflagration amidst London’s Great Fire. A crackerjack creepfest. (Fantasy. 10+)