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.