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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Roussel

Review: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

As the Amazing Maurice said, it was just a story about people and rats. And the difficult part of it was deciding who the people were, and who were the rats.

Maurice the cat and a band of rats, all of whom have learned to speak, have teamed up with Kevin, a stupid-looking kid, in the perfect moneymaking scam. The educated rodents move into town and busy themselves stealing food and widdling with things. When the townsfolk have had enough, they naturally hire the piper and his cat who have conveniently arrived on the scene.


However, on their last big score, things go wrong. The town of Bad Blintz is no stranger to chopping the tails of rats. It's already under the oppressive control of a couple of crooked rat catchers. The Mayor's daughter, Malicia, is obsessed with stories and has a knack for finding trouble. And what's more, there's evil in the sewers of the town which is threatening the lives of all.


Positives

This was my first foray into Terry Pratchett's YA books. And I had convinced myself that as it was aimed at a younger audience it wouldn't be 'as good' as his other novels. Still, written by Terry Pratchett which makes it leaps and bounds above some of the children's books I was forced to read as a child. But still for children.


However, I was pleasantly surprised! I can't think of many other Discworld novels which chilled me quite so much. This is an amazingly dark and sinister book, the horror being far more physical than the existential concerns he tackles in his adult novels.


Criticisms


I'm horrendously biased, but I don't have that many criticisms. Though the writing was just as good as in his adult novels, some elements felt a little lacking.


Keith, the pied piper character never really developed for me, remaining rather bland. And the appearance of the Rat-King, while chilling, seemed a brief for what was a seemingly powerful adversary.


Spotted


The book is set in the Discworld and is an extension of the ideas which began in Moving Pictures, where, under the influence of the Discworld's first movies, animals in the city started to speak. We see this in Ankh-Morpork's talking dog, Gaspode. And now Maurice and the educated rodents.

Terry Pratchett is fond of alluding to books and movies throughout his books. And this book was no different. It's very heavily inspired by The Pied Piper and Dick Whittington, but there are also illusions to Puss In Boots, Alice in Wonderland, The Famous Five and The Brothers Grimm.


Rating


This is a Four Star book for me. It's not in the top ten favourites of the Discworld novels, but definitely, in the top twenty and one I'll be returning to again!

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