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In a harsh and dangerous world, a rat and a boy must each choose their way as their fates become inextricably linked.
Efren is a young rat, unnoticed and timid among the kingdom of rats living in the London sewers. When the king dies, leaving the kingdom in upheaval, only Efren dares to journey into the human world, where he discovers a human doctor’s plan to destroy London’s entire rat population. Meanwhile, Peter, otherwise known as Dogboy, does odd jobs for both the scheming doctor and the town ratcatcher. But his gift for understanding animals — even rats — forces him to decide where his allegiances truly lie. Dogboy and Efren, along with the waifish girl Caz and her pet rat, Malaika, set out to test the strengths of friendship and loyalty against the gut-wrenching cruelties of the world.
in his mind, rats were no different from any other pest. There is a rumor that fleas are his new area of research. The politician has taken fright. That’s what they say in the bar. The blaze at the tip, Caz’s fire dance, set stories going around that the war on rats was more about winning votes than saving lives. The council lost interest. Mr. Petheridge found other campaigns to support. Sometimes grown-ups prefer to behave as if unpleasant things never really happened. It can be a good
give them work at court, and I shall serve you and the queen like a loyal subject. — Making terms, are we? From a dungeon. What a peculiar little thing you are, Efren. I remained still. Silence. Then, at last, an angry revelation. — There is another entrance. — Swylar tried to disguise his defeat by a show of impatience. — I shall send some guards to fetch you. — Only if you agree. Swylar’s nose, then his teeth, and then his entire mouth appeared at what was left of the opening. — You have
within. There was angry chattering from the loyalists. Some of the traditionalists shrank back in fear, pressing themselves against the wall. — It is subtle, this betrayal, — Swylar continued, — but it is a poison that will weaken us as we go to war. The smell of anger was in the air now. The rats around me jostled and nipped one another impatiently. My eyes were drawn to Jeniel. She gazed over the heads of her subjects as if none of this had anything to do with her. Swylar moved forward as
was a decision that would change my life. . . . as I walk down the towpath the next day with the doctor and Bill Grubstaff. For a moment, the sound of them distracts me from my thoughts of Caz. I have to keep working. Without pennies I will become hungry. Once hungry, I will steal. I am not made to be a thief — folk can read any thought of wrongdoing in my eyes. I will soon be in trouble. Then I will be of no use to anyone, least of all Caz. The barking of the dogs echoes in the cold afternoon
She’s been kidnapped by a gentleman. I don’t know why.” “What are you talking about, boy?” asks the doctor. “He makes her dance.” They both stare at me as if I have gone quite mad. “It’s wrong.” My voice cracks. “If you could just come with me to visit the gentleman, tell him to release my Caz, it would be the best thing in the world. I would help you catch every rat in the town. Help me with Caz, and there is nothing I would not do for you.” My words, more than I have ever spoken to either