Popular in England but never before published in America, the first book of Jarvis’s fantasy trilogy depicts an epic battle between good and evil. The side of good is represented by a society of harmonious, quiet-living mice who are aided and abetted by the more spiritual and mysterious bats above. Together they fight the evil, filthy rats, denizens of the dark and slimy sewers, who are ruled by a demonic overlord named Jupiter. The battle begins when a young mouse named Audrey Brown bravely slips between the bars of the basement grate, the portal between the mouse and rat universe, to search for her father, who has met with misadventure and disappeared into the hellish world beneath. As the stakes rise, Jarvis ratchets up the suspense, neatly juggling several story lines that culminate in a remarkable climactic disclosure. He does a good job, especially through the dialogue, of differentiating the multitude of mice, rat, and bat characters that populate the book. Still, the characters lack that elusive quality of lovability that makes the reader care deeply about their fate. Moreover, although the simultaneously symbolic and literal three-tiered world of bats, mice, and rats is well imagined and beautifully detailed, the narrative is rather dense, causing the book’s story engine to flag at several points. Although not right for every reader, Jarvis has delivered a robust book with a big-canvas plot that is tailor made for lovers of fantasy adventure and animal characters. (cast of characters, afterword) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-58717-021-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


From Savage (Under a Different Sky, 1997, etc.), a slow, clichÇd novel about a smart, sophisticated, ambitious teenager stuck in a small town while her future looms large; the rescue of hawks is the excuse for some overwrought allusions to flight and freedom. Taylor has just finished the ninth grade in Hunter’s Gap. She doesn’t fit in with the stereotypical small-minded, small-town types, and she misses her (also stereotypical) workaholic mother, who spends most of her time in the city or traveling to conferences. Taylor feels that her sensitive-artist (another stereotype) father is the only person who understands her until she connects with the class outcast, Rail, and Rhiannon, the “hawk lady” who runs the local raptor rescue center. Predictably, Taylor starts to see the real people behind the stereotypes, and trades in her future at the upscale Porter Phelps school for an internship at the local paper. Along the way, her father sleeps with Rhiannon, who sees in Taylor her daughter, who died; Taylor first worships Rhiannon (“I created a secret world in my heart—a high, windy hill where I stood side by side with the hawk lady, our long hair blowing until it mingled together”), then despises her; Taylor also has mixed feelings for Rail, the hick with the heart of gold. Hard-edged Rhiannon’s supposed charisma never comes through, and it’s easy to dislike Taylor, who, between bouts of self-pity, snaps at the very decent Rail in every chapter. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91163-X

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


A heartfelt but awkwardly paced novel of an orphan finding her way in 1910 Vermont. Harriet, 13, loses her mother when their horse shies from an automobile. Still barely comprehending her loss, she must also leave the house she and her mother shared to go live with her dead father Walter’s gruff sister. Sarah has had a hard life, and it shows, as she teaches Harry how to churn, gather hay, and find eggs, with little patience for her niece’s longing for school, or for the colt she loves, foal of the mare who died when her mother did. Sarah hated Harry’s mother, too, implying that pregnancy forced her beloved Walter into marriage. Harry doesn’t know the family story, but visits to the cemetery and the stories of another uncle help her piece together her past and offer her insight into Sarah’s brittleness. The emotional transitions are abrupt; the story predictably comes out all right when Harry’s school tuition gets paid, and when she and Sarah recognize their ties in blood and feeling. Readers will be comforted by the cozy denouement, and by Haas’s evocative descriptions of Vermont in the early years of this century. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16260-6

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet