Literature / Deptford Mice

A series of books by Robin Jarvis.

The first three books, known as the Deptford Mice books, tells the tale of a mouse named Audrey as her seemingly idyllic life is shattered when the evil god Jupiter and his legion of rats attack the mice. Audrey must find a way to vanquish Jupiter in order to stop him from wreaking havoc against the world, but the odds are stacked against her. The books include The Dark Portal, The Crystal Prison, and The Final Reckoning.

The next three books are known as the Deptford Histories and serve as prequel stories. These books include The Alchemist's Cat which tells the tale of a young boy who is held against his will by a sorcerer and a cat that would eventually gain great powers from being the sorcerer's familiar, The Oaken Throne which tells the tale of a bat and squirrel who must find a way to stop an evil cult while a war between their species rages on, and Thomas which tells the tale of a seafaring mouse who is hounded by a Religion of Evil known as the Scale.

The main trilogies were followed by The Deptford Mice Almanack, a collection of animal traditions and folklore written by an in-universe chronicler. In between the snippets of history are mentions of the characters' lives in the present day - and a series of strange and foreboding events. It comes to a head when the Great Oak containing the rat god Hob's spirit is felled by a storm, and Audrey ousted as Starwife by mysterious black squirrels, one of whom bears an inexplicable resemblance to her fieldmouse "enemy" Allison Sedge.

The Sequel Hook has yet to be followed up on - instead, the 2000s saw three Deptford Mouselets books, set apart from the main action. The first was about a token pacifist rat, the second, a fieldmouse from Fennywolde, and the third introduced the prophet bats' unruly nephew who'd rather not have to deal with his growing magic.

These books provide examples of:

  • Big Bad: Jupiter in the main series.
  • Burn the Witch!
  • Cain and Abel: Want to know how the cocky but well-meaning Jupiter in the prequel grows up to be a remorseless god of evil? He doesn't. His brother kills him and assumes his identity.
  • Cats Are Mean: The cats in these books are definitely not friendly at all. Leech from The Alchemist's Cat is a particular example, being spiteful towards others due to him being a runt. He would later on become known as 'Jupiter.'
  • The Dragon: Morgan to Jupiter, increasingly unwillingly.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Jupiter nearly smothers the world in eternal winter in The Final Reckoning.
  • Evil Uncle: Spittle to Will.
  • Exposed Animal Bellybutton: In the illustrations.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: A lot of it; the first major one that comes to mind is the rats peeling the skin off of their victims to honor their god(s).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Leech started off as the sickly runt of three ordinary cat siblings in 17th century London. He ends up becoming a god-like fiend who's more dangerous dead than alive.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's heavily implied Madame Akkikuyu spent her youth as a prostitute.
  • God of Evil: The Raith Sidhe, which includes Hobb, Mabb and Bauchan. Scarophion from Thomas also applies. Jupiter himself is a borderline case at the height of his power.
  • Heroic Albino: Oswald.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Madam Akkikuyu throwing herself on the bonfire to stop Jupiter's plans in the second book. While she earns *personal* redemption, Jupiter's spirit finds his way to freedom anyway...
  • I Have Many Names: The Dark Despoiler from Thomas has been called Scarophion, Sarpedon, and Gorscarrigen.
  • Ill Girl: Gender-flipped with Oswald.
  • Immortality Seeker: Spittle
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: The main plot of Thomas, with the twist that the higher-level good guys have already rendered the MacGuffin useless to the villains, just in case.
  • Meaningful Rename
  • Ominous Owl: The owl from The Crystal Prison is responsible for some of the deaths.
  • Philosopher's Stone: Spittle's goal in The Alchymist's Cat is to learn how to create the elixir of life. It winds up becoming the source of much of Jupiter's power.
  • Plague Doctor: The iconic outfit plays an important role for the human characters in Cat.
  • Poisoned Weapons: The villains of Thomas. Jupiter's ghostly horde in the final book of the main series have a mystical variant.
  • Prophecy Twist: The bats outline the plot of the entire main trilogy early in the first book, but in such a hopelessly cryptic fashion that the information is functionally useless. The prequels include a mouse prophesied to die surrounded by the sound of bells - rustling bluebells, not city bells as he suspected - and Leech's discovery that his brother, Jupiter, will be known as "lord of all". He kills Jupiter and takes the name for himself.
  • Regret Eating Me
  • Religion of Evil: The worship of the Infernal Triad and Scarophion.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Scale worship the evil snake god Scarophion and includes reptiles like crocodiles and cobras in his army. Certain members can even tear off their mammalian skin and take the form of reptiles.
  • Scaled Up: Dimlon, or Dahrem as he is really known, does this during his fight against Chattan, revealing his ability as an adept of Scarophion to transform into a lizard.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Vesper and Ysabelle, Audrey and Piccadilly.
  • Theme Naming: Each of the Raith Sidhe are named after a sort of fairy. Hobb gets his name from the hob, Mabb is named after Queen Mab, and Bauchan gets his name from a Scottish hobgoblin.
  • Uncanny Valley: The illustrations, to some extent, but considering the book's content this is likely intentional.
  • Wizard Duel: At the climax of The Alchymist's Cat, Spittle and his own familiar, having both drunk the elixir of life, battle to the death.
  • Wicked Weasel: Wendel.