Ah, yes, it’s time for another twisted and disturbing retelling of the Pied Piper, courtesy of the animal-loving Jeane. I can’t decide whether this is more disturbing or What Happened in Hamelin – I feel like the latter, because of all the little children – but this is still fairly disturbing. In a good way! I liked it!
The Coachman Rat is all about Cinderella’s rat. On the night of Cinderella’s ball (she’s called Amadea here), an ordinary rat is transformed into a coachman; and at midnight, as she runs away, he is turned back into a rat. Now, however, he can only speak the human language. He is cast out from his family, displayed as a novelty, studied by a scientist, and eventually educated. All he can think of is finding Amadea’s fairy godmother (“the woman of light”, he calls her), to beg her to change him back into a man.
I know, that’s Cinderella, not the Pied Piper. It’s both! The Pied Piper comes into it later. Not in a nice way. As Robert seeks to become human, he learns more and more about the ugliness in humans. (Spoilers!) A revolutionary uses him in a plot to bring down the Prince and Princess – their happily ever after turns into a nightmare when he is beheaded and she is burned as a witch. Robert, restored to manhood just at the moment of her death, vows revenge for the death of the Princess.
Not a very triumph-of-the-human-spirit-y book, but I liked it. Robert becomes neither human nor rat – he says – but in reality he is becoming the worst of human and rat to destroy his enemy.