The Coachman Rat, David Henry Wilson

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!

DogEar ReadingChallenge

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.

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7 thoughts on “The Coachman Rat, David Henry Wilson

    • I loved how it combined the Pied Piper story and the Cinderella one – sort of a weird idea, but it works really well. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

    • Surrsly, though, it is not for children. It’s bleak … though now that I’m thinking about it, not much bleaker than a lot of the fairy tales we grow up with. In the Cinderella story, the stepsisters are hacking bits off of themselves to fit their feet into the shoe, and the wolf eats up Red Riding Hood’s grandmother and has to have his stomach cut open…etc etc etc. 😛

  1. Pingback: DogEar Reading Challenge « Jenny's Books

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