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Literature / Deptford Mice

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"When a mouse is born, he has to fight to survive. There are many enemies..."
The Dark Portal

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.

The Sequel Hook has yet to be followed up on — instead, the 2000s saw the release of two Deptford Mouselets books, set apart from the main action. Each of them took place in the year before The Dark Portal. The first, Fleabee's Fortune, was about a token pacifist rat, and the second, Whortle's Hope, was about a fieldmouse from Fennywolde. There were to be two more entitled Ogmund's Gift and Twit's Progress. The former was to introduce the prophet bats' unruly nephew who'd rather not have to deal with his growing magic, and the latter would describe Twit's journey from his home in Fennywolde to visit his cousin in Deptford. For some reason, neither of these have been published yet, though it has been nearly ten years since the publication of Whortle's Hope. However, with Robin Jarvis lately returning to the worlds of his other classics, Hagwood and The Whitby Witches (the former having only one book with a cliffhanger that was unresolved for fourteen years), it is possible that the remaining Deptford Mouselets books and the grand finale of The Deptford Mice may finally see the light of day in the not too distant future.

These books provide examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Isaac Nettle beats his son Jenkin, whom he blames for the death of his wife, as she died giving birth to him. He also abuses him verbally, once even saying that he wished an owl would carry him off. These words no doubt come back to haunt him later when Jenkin really is killed and eaten by an owl.
  • Against the Grain: In Fleabee's Fortune, Fleabee wants to be kind and not hurt anything. This puts her into conflict with her parents and the other rats living in the sewer, who want her to be vile and despicable. She's eventually able to escape from them and become a rat-witch.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Silver Acorn
  • And This Is for...: Audrey cries "This is for my father!" right before she throws her mousebrass at Jupiter in The Dark Portal. Warden Mugwort from The Oaken Throne calls out the names of his dead children as he fights the bat army.
  • Animal Facial Hair: Thomas Triton has this, among others.
  • Animal Stereotypes: There are some, most notably the stereotype of rats being evil and dirty certainly matches how they are portrayed here.
  • Animated Tattoo: The face on Madame Akkikuyu's ear, through which Nicodemus (really the spirit of Jupiter) is able to speak to her.
  • Anyone Can Die: In a Robin Jarvis book, you'd better believe it!
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Madame Akkikuyu. This is lampshaded in Thomas when she decides to become a fortune teller. Her given name was exotic-sounding enough, but it needed a bit more, so she tacked Madame onto the beginning.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: At the end of The Oaken Throne, Ysabelle has her coronation as the Starwife. It is not literally a crowning; rather, the Silver Acorn pendant which is the symbol of office for the Starwives is formally placed about the neck of the squirrel who has ascended to the throne. However, Ysabelle pushes it away at the last minute and refuses the position, much to the shock of those watching. She goes in search of her beloved Vesper, whom she previously rejected, in the hopes that they will run away and start a new life together... but she finds him dead and so is left with no other option but to become the new Starwife.
  • Balloon Belly: In Whortle's Hope, the mean-spirited Dimsel Bottom is given a magical biscuit by Samuel Gorse which, unbeknownst to her, comes with the side effect of making anyone who eats it rapidly gain weight. She becomes too large to move, and it takes over a year for her to return to normal. Her ordeal causes her to become kinder to others.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Audrey and Piccadilly
  • Benevolent Mage Ruler: The Starwife
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In The Oaken Throne, the captured bat Heglyr impales himself on a squirrel guard's spear after Lady Ninnia implies that her subjects might use torture to interrogate him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Many characters regard Twit as a Kindhearted Simpleton, and there is some truth in that... just do not make him mad!
  • Big Bad: Jupiter in the main series.
  • Big "NO!": This is yelled by Jupiter when the Starglass falls from his grip and shatters.
  • Bittersweet Ending: This is applicable to almost all of these books, especially The Final Reckoning, The Oaken Throne, and Thomas
  • Blood Magic: In The Oaken Throne, the high priest of Hobb dips the Silver Acorn in the blood of one Ysabelle's subjects three times during a sacrifice. Each time, he calls Hobb's name. This summons the evil rat god to the world. The bloodstains cannot be removed from the amulet, no matter how many times it is washed, until Ysabelle unites it with the magic of the Starglass and becomes the Starwife.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Scabmona in Fleabee's Fortune. As they are rats, her parents are actually proud of her rude behaviour, whereas they are ashamed of her polite older sister Fleabee.
  • Break the Cutie: Robin Jarvis delights in doing this to his characters. Specifically, this could apply to protagonists like Audrey, Ysabelle, Woodget, or Twit.
  • Burn the Witch!
  • But Thou Must!: In The Final Reckoning, once Audrey unwittingly takes the Silver Acorn and allows the powers to channel through her, the Starwife informs her that she is now her successor whether she likes it or not.
    "You claimed it and it claimed you Audrey. Both are irrevocably tied together, tethered as one till death."
  • 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.
  • The Cameo: Younger versions of Morgan and Madame Akkikuyu in Thomas.
  • Canon Illustrations: Robin Jarvis illustrates the books himself. Unfortunately the US editions of the Deptford Histories books are inexplicably devoid of them, and so are some later UK editions of both trilogies.
  • 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.'
    • Averted with Dab, not that it does her much good in the end.
  • The Chains of Commanding: The two highest-ranking offices on the side of good are those of the Starwife and the Holy One. Nevertheless, no one would relish being chosen as either. For all the power the positions afford, they mean being doomed to a lonely existence made even more miserable by being granted an extended lifespan.
  • Character Title: The third book in The Deptford Histories trilogy is named Thomas after its protagonist.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Robin Jarvis is well-known for being a bloodthirsty author, so expect most of the characters to be dead by the time all is said and done. One of his bios actually states that "as a child he loved reading scary stories and was disappointed if no one died in them, something he was determined to make up for when he started writing his own". A character is very, very lucky if they survive to the end in one of his books... well, maybe not, as even if they're still alive they're likely to be miserable.
  • Coming of Age Story: The entire main trilogy is this for Audrey, and The Oaken Throne is this for Ysabelle.
  • Cool Chair: Both thrones of the Starwife (the original was replaced after being destroyed during an attack on the realm); the Oaken Throne and the Living Throne.
  • Cool Old Lady: The Starwife in the original trilogy, who is a sassy and tough old squirrel with magical powers.
  • Covers Always Lie: This certainly applies to the Finnish edition, which makes the mice look like cutesy characters from a book intended for young children. That is very misleading.
  • Creepy Doll: Audrey creates what she intends to be a pretty corn dolly to decorate the Hall of Corn in Fennywolde. But without her knowledge it is brought to life by Jupiter's dark magic and becomes a serial killer that strangles mice to death.
  • Crystal Ball: Madame Akkikuyu's most treasured possession is her crystal ball. That makes it rather difficult for her to follow the instructions of Nicodemus (a.k.a. Jupiter) and smash it to complete the ritual he wants her to do in The Crystal Prison.
  • Crystal Prison: The second book, actually called The Crystal Prison, has the spirit of Jupiter become trapped within Madame Akkikuyu's crystal ball. He's inadvertently freed by the end, though.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Thomas Triton is haunted by the memory of his being responsible for the death of his friend Woodget Pipple. In the prequel book Thomas, which describes the incident in detail, it is revealed that the evil Mother Lotus put him into a trance, causing him to throw Woodget (who could not swim) into the ocean. When Thomas awoke from the trance, he realised what he had done and was filled with remorse. However, unbeknownst to him, Woodget was rescued by the siren Zenna whose song gave him amnesia. He was brought to the City of Hara in India and became the new Holy One.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: For the most part, black squirrels are firmly on the side of good as well-respected, regal creatures. The treacherous Morwenna is a rare subversion.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Arthur's sons Waldo and Dilly-O are named after his late friends Oswald and Piccadilly, respectively.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Fleabee has one with the ghost of 'Orace Baldmony, and Audrey has one with the ghosts of her father and Piccadilly.
  • Deus ex Machina: Near the end of The Oaken Throne, Ysabelle is tricked by the treacherous Morwenna into descending far below the Hallowed Oak and becoming trapped in a locked room where hungry toads are waiting to devour her. There seems to be no way out, but somehow Vesper (who is outside in the midst of a presumably noisy battle) is able to not only hear her cries, but quickly find his way down a dark maze of unfamiliar passages (it was previously noted that even Morwenna, who was familiar with them, had some trouble navigating) to rescue her.
  • Devoured by the Horde: One poor dissenting rat suffers this fate at the hands of Morgan's army.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: This happens several times in the series. Audrey defeats Jupiter twice, and Ysabelle defeats Hobb.
  • Doomed by Canon: If you're reading Whortle's Hope, chances are you've already read The Crystal Prison. If you have, then you know that the titular character will later be murdered. Also several of his friends will be too.
  • The Dragon: Morgan to Jupiter, increasingly unwillingly.
  • The Dreaded: Jupiter is thought of this way by the mice, at least in the first book.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Ysabelle in The Oaken Throne
  • Driven by Envy: Alison hates and envies Audrey, lashing out at her because she feels she threatens her relationship with Jenkin.
  • Egg MacGuffin: Keeping fragments of a jade egg out of enemy hands serves as the main plot of Thomas.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Though William Scuttle has no problem with being referred to by his nickname, Twit, the reason he was given it is because he is believed to be a simpleton. That others think that of him does make him feel bad, of course. He ends up proving them wrong.
  • Endless Winter: In the final book, Jupiter freezes the entire world, intending to plunge it into an eternal winter in which every living thing will perish.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The rat families depicted in Fleabee's Fortune show that this is true for them.
  • Evil All Along: Robin Jarvis seems to love this trope as it turns up frequently in his works. Some examples include Nicodemus a.k.a. Jupiter in The Crystal Prison, Barker a.k.a. Bauchan in The Final Reckoning, Wendel Maculatum in The Oaken Throne, and Dimlon a.k.a. Dahrem Ruhar in Thomas. Jarvis has even said he considered making Giraldus an agent of Hrethel in The Oaken Throne, but decided that would be one traitor too many in a book that already had a number of them.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Jupiter nearly smothers the world in eternal winter in The Final Reckoning.
  • Evil Is Hammy: This applies to most every villainous character in these books. They tend to be quite over-the-top with their gloating.
  • Evil Uncle: Spittle to Will.
  • Exposed Animal Bellybutton: In the illustrations.
  • False Friend: Wendel and Dimlon a.k.a. Dahrem
  • False Innocence Trick: Jupiter poses as a spirit of the fields called Nicodemus in order to trick Madame Akkikuyu into helping to release him from limbo.
  • 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).
  • Fantastic Racism: There is a fierce war raging between the bats and the squirrels in The Oaken Throne. Neither side trusts any members of the opposite species, believing them all to be evil.
  • Fantastic Slurs: In The Oaken Throne, the bats refer to the squirrels contemptuously as "tree worshippers" and "tree rats".
  • Fantasy Keepsake: After waking up from her dream, Fleabee finds an ornate dagger on her pillow, a gift from the goddess Mabb. The feathers on her necklace which in the dream became multi-coloured at the touch of 'Orace Baldmony, have maintained their hues.
  • Finders Rulers: In The Oaken Throne, the Silver Acorn literally falls into Ysabelle's paws. It is the symbol of office for the Starwife and, as a result, she is the chosen one who must journey to the land of Greenreach to take up the throne.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: There is a bizarre example in the first chapter of The Oaken Throne, where Morwenna comments on something explained by the narrator. Fourth wall breaking is not something that happens in these books (this is the only time it ever does).
    No other squirrel, red or black, had ever had the courage to explore these ghastly caverns. A sinister smile split Morwenna's face.
    "Well, if they have," she muttered in a voice as sharp as her features, "none have ever returned."
  • Foregone Conclusion: Throughout the original trilogy, it is made clear that Thomas is haunted by feelings of guilt because he is responsible for killing his friend Woodget. In Thomas, then, it's a given that Woodget is going to die by the end... although in the epilogue it is revealed that he survived, but with no memory of who he is.
  • 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.
  • The Fundamentalist: Isaac Nettle, who is very strict in his veneration of the Green Mouse. During the Eve of Midsummer in Fennywolde he is so caught up in his own piety that he cannot enjoy the festivities where the Green Mouse himself makes a rare appearance.
  • Genocide from the Inside: Apparently what caused the ruin of the Fir Realm, one of the five royal houses of black squirrels. The Deptford Mice Almanack says that it was destroyed from within.
  • Ghostly Animals: The second book ends with the vengeful spirit of the cat Jupiter being released into the other side. Additionally, in the third book, to help him complete his bid for eternal Winter, he creates an army of ghosts. Although most of them are rats, some of them, such as Kempe and Piccadilly, are mice.
  • Give My Regards in the Next World: The disguised Bauchan whispers in the ear of Kelly's corpse to tell Hobb he sent him.
  • Glasgow Grin: The rat called Smiler had his lips sliced off as punishment for offending Morgan in his youth, hence his nickname.
  • 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.
  • God of Good: The Green Mouse, sometimes simply referred to as the Green, who is the rodents' equivalent of the mythical Green Man. Also there is the White Lady of the Moon worshiped by the bats.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: At the end of The Dark Portal, when Madame Akkikuyu sees Jupiter after he emerges from his lair and realises she's been serving a monstrous cat, her mind snaps.
  • Go Out with a Smile: When the Starwife's frozen body is found in The Final Reckoning, the other characters notice there is a smile on her face.
  • Gorn: These books are full of it, so much so that if it was happening to human characters rather than talking animals, their appropriateness for children would probably be called into question.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Starwife recalls the night she ascended to the throne in her youth when she "raced uphill from the battle". No further details have been given about this particular war, but it cannot be the one between the bats and the squirrels as it has been confirmed by the author that the Starwife who appears in the main trilogy is not Ysabelle.
  • Hearing Voices: In The Final Reckoning, a voice in Audrey's head compels her to return to garden of the empty house in Deptford, in spite of the dangers of being attacked by Jupiter's spectral army. In the garden she finds a snowdrop flower that will be useful later on.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Audrey in the main trilogy, and Ysabelle in The Oaken Throne.
  • The Hero Dies: Piccadilly, Oswald, and Vesper
  • Heroic BSoD: Piccadilly does this more than once in The Final Reckoning. First when he discovers that everyone in his home, Holeborn, has been savagely slaughtered by Morgan's rat army, and then when he sees that his friend Marty did not survive the attack after all, and his skin is being used as the rats' flag.
  • 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...
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Several characters are guilty of being this, especially Thomas, Woodget, and Mulligan in regards to Dimlon a.k.a. Dahrem in Thomas. On the other hand, Chattan Giri is suspicious of him and says as much to Thomas and Woodget, who laughingly insist that he is mistaken.
  • I Have Many Names: The Dark Despoiler from Thomas has been called Scarophion, Sarpedon, and Gorscarrigen.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Ysabelle from The Oaken Throne does not want to become the Starwife, but accepts the position because it is her duty. Later, when she falls in love with Vesper, she again has doubts about taking up the throne. On her coronation day, she at first rejects his offer to run away with him, but soon changes her mind and publicly refuses the Starwifeship. However, by the time she reaches Vesper to tell him the good news, he has been murdered by the ghost of the villainous Wendel Maculatum. With her love dead she then, according to The Deptford Mice Almanack, took her place as the Starwife and her reign lasted nearly three hundred years.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When Audrey is fighting for her life against the ghost of Piccadilly, who is being controlled by the evil magic of Jupiter and intends to strangle her. She is finally able to get him to remember who he was, and a tearful farewell takes place as he finds peace and crosses over to the other side.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: This is the point of the rats' Festival of the First Blood. To prove their loyalty to Jupiter, young rats must commit murder by midnight or be killed themselves. The unusually kind-hearted rat girl Fleabee cannot bring herself to harm anything, so her chances of surviving First Blood are slim to none. That's why her mother has the idea of asking the goddess of the usurped Raith Sidhe, Mabb, for help. But as it turns out, Mabb expects the exact same thing of Fleabee that Jupiter did. Fleabee cheats Mabb and escapes the sewers, managing to survive without killing anyone.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: When Mulligan, poison slowly eating away at him, gives the ninth fragment to Woodget in Thomas.
  • I'm Melting!: In Thomas, victims who have been stabbed with the poisoned weapons of the Scale suffer this gruesome fate. The death of Mulligan in particular is described in all its horrific detail as he melts into a pile of sludge.
  • Immortality Seeker: Spittle
  • Innocence Lost: This happens for multiple characters in these books, but it is lampshaded in Thomas in regards to Woodget.
  • Interspecies Romance: At least two examples come to mind:
    • In The Oaken Throne, Ysabelle (female black squirrel) and Vesper (male bat) become increasingly close over the course of their struggles together. In the book's finale, Vesper suggests that they run away together and get married. Ysabelle initially turns him down, insisting that her duty is to become the new Starwife... but realizes that she doesn't want to, and tries to come back to him, only to find he has been murdered by the ghost of one of their enemies.
    • In Thomas, a downplayed case is the obvious affection of Zenna, the dark mermouse who favors the cold northern waters, for Woodget, the male field mouse who defends her from the mockery of her fairer sisters. The relationship never goes anywhere deep. But it is revealed in the epilogue to have led Zenna to save Woodget's life when a Mind Raped Thomas throws him into a river to drown.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While everything the Starwife does is for a good reason, she initially comes across as rude and cruel. This probably has something to do with the fact that being a Broken Bird is an actual requirement for the job, as Ninnia states in the prequel The Oaken Throne.
    "To become the Handmaiden of Orion, one must know terrible grief in order to learn compassion."
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: When Audrey is battling against Jupiter and his minions, she wears her usual outfit; a lace skirt with matching collar and a pink ribbon in her hair.
  • Kill It with Fire: Ghosts are depicted as preferring the coldness of the void, and while fire will not "kill" them, it clearly causes them excruciating pain.
  • Kill the Cutie: Dab from "The Alchymist's Cat", who's easily the most sweet-natured of Imelza's brood, ends up being killed by Spittle and stored in one of his specimen jars.
  • Lady and Knight: By the end of The Oaken Throne, Vesper is utterly devoted to Ysabelle and would do anything to protect her.
  • Large Ham: Jupiter is quite a hammy villain.
  • Last Kiss: Audrey and Piccadilly
  • Last of Her Kind: The Starwife. She is the sole remaining black squirrel. While a pair of black squirrels do later appear in Greenwich, as recorded in The Deptford Mice Almanack, there is something strange and not quite right about them. It is strongly implied that they are not what they appear.
  • Legacy Character: The Starwife, and also the Holy One of Hara
  • Lighter and Softer: The Deptford Mouselets books contain considerably less violence than the books in the main trilogies. There are still some frightening moments, but little to no gore, and their tone is more lighthearted.
  • Lip Losses: One of the rats digging under Blackheath is a particularly massive specimen known only as "Smiler": apparently, he made the mistake of mouthing off to Morgan when he was younger, and was punished by having his lips sliced off. To this day, he's still easily recognizable by his perpetual grin and slurred speech.
  • Living Relic: In The Final Reckoning, the Starwife reveals that she is the last of the black squirrels. The dynasty of Starwives had traditionally been made up of members of that species but, having searched in vain for such a successor, she tricks the mouse Audrey into accepting the position. Thus Audrey becomes the first non-squirrel Starwife. This eventually causes her squirrel subjects to question her right to the throne.
  • 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.
  • Magical Accessory: The Anti-Cat Charm (and mousebrasses in general), as well as the Silver Acorn pendant.
  • Marriage of Convenience: In The Crystal Prison, Twit marries Audrey solely to save her from being falsely hanged as a witch. According to the Gallows Law, if a willing spouse is found, then the accused will be reprieved no matter what crime they have supposedly committed. Though Audrey is grateful to Twit for saving her life, she later comes to regret the marriage as it prevents her from pursuing a romantic relationship with her true love, Piccadilly.
  • Master of Disguise: Bauchan of the Raith Sidhe can assume any form he likes to walk among mortals.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: Isaac Nettle holds Jenkin responsible for the death of his wife, who died giving birth to their son.
  • Meaningful Funeral: The ceremony the squirrels hold to honour their dead in The Final Reckoning
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Rats are known to eat each other. After Jake emerges from the temple of the Raith Sidhe after his battle with Fletch, Audrey is sickened because it is clear to her that he feasted on his opponent's body.
  • Mouse World: The mice and other animals have their own communities within what is otherwise ordinary London. In most of the books, humans are barely mentioned but The Alchymist's Cat is unique in having them be major characters.
  • Mystical India: The Indian city of Hara is depicted with temples, humid jungles, an evil cult, and heroic mongooses.
  • Never Mess with Granny: It is dangerous to get on the wrong side of the Starwife. As ancient as she is, she is still an imposing figure and possesses great power. Even her servants fear her fiery temper; she has been known to throw her stick at them when they annoy her.
  • Nice Mice: Most all of the mice in this series are heroic, or at least on the side of good.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Jupiter creates his own ghost army in The Final Reckoning by intentionally luring a group of rats to his lair and killing them all. Their spirits are controlled by starfire within their chests that is linked to Jupiter.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: During his duel with Piccadilly, Morgan expresses an admiration for the mouse's bloodlust, saying he would have made a fine rat. This disgusts Piccadilly and causes him to snap out of the rage that blinded him to all else.
  • Obvious Villain, Secret Villain: Morwenna is the obvious villain in The Oaken Throne while Wendel is the secret one.
  • Odd Friendship: In The Oaken Throne, a squirrel princess and a young bat (whose species are sworn enemies) develop a friendship, and the two of them also end up befriending a blind, leprous mole and his crippled shrew guide.
    "Don't worry," Ysabelle said hastily when she saw the look of horror steal over the jester's face. "These are all my friends, and the bat has saved my life more than once since I last saw you."
    "Is that so?" the stoat mumbled, staring aghast at the leprous mole and his lame guide. "I'll own that your roads have been darker than mine if this company seems fair to thee. What have we here? A runty shrew with a game leg, and the most ill-favoured knave I have ever bruised mine eyes to look on - no ornaments are they."
  • Off with His Head!: Fletch in The Dark Portal, Pountfrey in The Oaken Throne
  • Ominous Owl: The owl from The Crystal Prison is responsible for some of the deaths.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. There are two characters with the name William. These are William "Twit" Scuttle the fieldmouse and William Godwin the human boy. They're from different time periods and they don't appear in the same book, however. Also, the Starwife in the original trilogy was known as Audrey before she ascended the throne, the same name as the mouse heroine. The latter is never told of that fact, though, and the reader is only made aware of it right before the Starwife dies.
  • Our Sirens Are Different: There are sirens in Thomas that are part mouse, part fish.
  • Passing the Torch: In The Final Reckoning, the Starwife chooses Audrey to be her successor and tricks her into performing a ritual that irrevocably ties her to the position, whether she likes it or not. She doesn't at first, but gradually accepts it as the powers of the Starwife begin to manifest themselves within her.
  • 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.
  • The Pigpen: Rats enjoy being as disgusting and dirty as possible. To them it is completely natural to be that way.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Audrey always wears a pink ribbon in her hair.
  • Plague Doctor: The iconic outfit plays an important role for the human characters in Cat.
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: After wearying of their duel, Morgan urges Piccadilly to go ahead and kill him as he wants to be free of Jupiter's control. When the mouse refuses after coming to his senses, Morgan commits suicide.
  • 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 bat 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.
  • Proud Beauty: Alison Sedge
  • Psychic Link: Audrey has this with the Starwife. At first Audrey cannot understand why, but as it turns out it has to do with her becoming the Starwife's successor.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ends of The Final Reckoning and The Oaken Throne are two notable examples. The author is so fond of Bittersweet Endings that by the time the evil is defeated, there is a tremendous loss of life and sadness on the side of the heroes.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: The two characters in the series who manage to bring down Gods of Evil are both Starwives using the powers given to them as part of that position.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: For most of the first book, all anyone ever sees of Big Bad Jupiter are his glowing red eyes emerging from the blackness of the portal he dwells in.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The rat 'Orace Baldmony, formerly a lieutenant of Jupiter, realised the error of his ways and befriended the mice whom he decided to live with. However, an army of his kind was sent to find him. When they did, they pulled him to pieces, stuck his head on a spike, and slaughtered all his mouse friends too. Jupiter placed a curse on the Grille in the cellar of the old empty house in Deptford that would lure generations of mice to their doom.
  • 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.
  • Reread Bonus: These books are made for this! Only after you read through all of them will you pick up on scenes and lines you passed over before and realise how significant they really were. For example, the bats' prophecy in The Dark Portal will become clear to you upon reading the main trilogy in its entirety.
  • Rite of Passage: For the mice, this is the Great Spring Celebration when those who have come of age receive their mousebrasses. For the rats, this is the Festival of the First Blood, A FĂȘte Worse than Death where young rats must kill or be killed.
  • Ritual Magic: There is a lot of this in the books. In particular, the evil kind is performed by Jupiter, and the good kind is performed by the Starwife.
  • Rule of Three: The significance of the High Priest of Hobb steeping the Silver Acorn in blood three times and saying Hobb's name three times in The Oaken Throne. This was what called the rat god back to the world.
  • Ruling Family Massacre: Ninnia, queen of the Hazel Realm, and her consort, Cyllinus, are murdered by the bat army (the vast majority of their subjects are as well). However, their daughter Ysabelle is sent away prior to the attack.
  • 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.
  • The Scottish Trope: Many mice in the Skirtings are so frightened of Jupiter that they won't even say his name aloud.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: It is revealed in Whortle's Hope that Fenlyn Purfote was resurrected after his death but put into a deep sleep until the time comes when he needs to be awakened to battle evil once more. He lies in a chamber beneath the ground, waiting until he is summoned, and there is only one voice he will respond to... Twit's.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Hobb imprisoned within the acorn that would later become the Great Oak.
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: In The Final Reckoning, after passing on her title to Audrey, the Starwife goes outside into the snowstorm and ritualistically freezes herself to death. Her body is found and burned in a pyre, and then a magical snowdrop flower grows on that spot. It is later used by Audrey to defeat Big Bad Jupiter once and for all.
  • Severed Head Sports: The rats are known to have 'kickabouts' with their victims' severed heads.
  • Shoot the Dog: The Green Council in Thomas. They let everything play out in the villains' favour as they knew that the egg of Sarpedon would not be usable. This meant letting several characters die along the way in trying to keep the remaining fragments of the egg out of enemy hands, with their sacrifices being entirely in vain.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: The magical silver acorn necklace worn by the Starwives, which is the source of much of their power.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The pompous mousebrass maker, Master Oldnose.
    "You must be Oldnose, I've heard about you." He bowed, greatly flattered, and smiled even wider until she added, "It's true - you are a daft, pompous old nibbler whose opinion of himself is greater than his brain."
  • The Smurfette Principle: Audrey is the only female in the main cast of mice (she, Arthur, Piccadilly, Twit, and Oswald). However, she also is The Hero, and the story focuses mainly on her.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The Starwife and Audrey, two fiery personalities in a battle of wills with each other.
  • Snow Means Death: The Starwife intentionally goes outside in the snow and freezes to death. In the mythology of the Green Mouse, he dies every winter and is reborn in the spring.
  • Spirit Advisor: 'Orace Baldmony to Fleabee
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Vesper and Ysabelle, Audrey and Piccadilly.
  • Start of Darkness: The Alchymist's Cat reveals the origins of Big Bad Jupiter from the main trilogy.
  • Summoning Artifact: With Blood Magic, the stolen Silver Acorn pendant is used this way by the High Priest of Hobb in The Oaken Throne to summon the evil rat god into the world.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The most notable example is the acorn that Ysabelle uses to entrap Hobb in The Oaken Throne.
    "Not to the Pit that is broken do I consign thee!" she cried. "But to another confinement - of my own devising!"
  • Take a Third Option: In Thomas, Neltemi chooses to stab herself with Dahrem's poisoned blades when the latter tells Mulligan that if he doesn't hand over the ninth egg fragment, he'll kill her. Neltemi knew that Mulligan would choose her life over the fragment, but was also aware that preventing the return of Suruth Scarophion was critical.
  • Take Me Instead: In Whortle's Hope, Virianna offers her own life to the evil rat goddess Mabb in exchange for her sparing Captain Fenny. Mabb agrees to take only one life... though she doesn't specify whose and so tricks Virianna. Fenny dies anyway, and by Virianna's own hand, no less, as she unwittingly allowed Mabb to take control of her body. When Fenny's corpse is discovered by the woodlanders with Virianna dancing about it madly, they kill her in retribution for the crime she has seemingly committed.
  • Talking Animal: Every single one in the books.
  • 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.
  • This Cannot Be!: Jupiter screams this as he realises that Audrey is defeating him in The Final Reckoning.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: At one point Audrey flushes and turns beetroot.
  • Together in Death: This trope is surprisingly averted here, even with the multiple Star-Crossed Lovers who show up throughout the books. Each time there is one of them left alive.
  • Too Dumb to Live: There is one moment in The Dark Portal where Twit actually does live up to his nickname. When he, Arthur, and Oswald enter the sewers to look for Audrey, he shouts her name as loudly as he can in spite of knowing that there are bloodthirsty rats around who would definitely hear them. And they do. They're almost killed before they happen to be rescued by Audrey and Piccadilly.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: In The Crystal Prison, the spirit of Jupiter plans to take possession of Madame Akkikuyu's body as his was destroyed. Akkikuyu begins to transform into a cat (much to her horror), but before Jupiter can fully take control of her body, she kills herself.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Audrey and Ysabelle in particular experience these, though they are not the only ones to do so by any means.
  • A Truce While We Gawk: Vesper and Ysabelle's Big Damn Kiss causes the bat and squirrel armies to cease fighting and stare in disgusted horror.
  • Tuckerization: The sea maiden Zenna, who appears in Thomas, is named after the daughter of a librarian Robin Jarvis met when he visited her school in Shropshire.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: The rats love being as filthy as possible.
  • Unlikely Hero: Oswald Chitter, William "Twit" Scuttle, Woodget Pipple
  • Unwitting Pawn: Hrethel, and the bats in general, are this to Morwenna. Helping them to attack Greenreach was only part of her main plan to bring the Raith Sidhe to power.
  • The Usurper: In The Deptford Mice Almanack, there is unrest among the grey squirrels, who do not approve of Audrey being the Starwife as she is a mouse. Two black squirrels arrive in Greenwich and one of them, a maiden named Morella, grows popular with the Starwife's subjects. Ultimately, the squirrels revolt, marching into Audrey's chamber and tearing the Silver Acorn from her neck. They chase her away, referring to her as 'the usurping mouse', while Morella ascends to the throne. However, it can easily be gathered that Morella is the real usurper, as there is something unsettling about her. Audrey was chosen by the previous Starwife and the Green Mouse himself, so her right to the throne cannot be denied.
  • Vanilla Edition: While the US editions of the Deptford Mice books retained the full-page ink drawings done by Robin Jarvis himself, when the Deptford Histories were brought over their illustrations were conspicuously (to those who knew they existed) absent. The most recent UK editions of all the books have been inexplicably devoid of illustrations as well.
  • Watching Troy Burn: When Ysabelle and her entourage stop and sadly watch Coll Regalis being destroyed by the bat army in the distance behind them.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Ysabelle and Vesper's relationship during the first part of The Oaken Throne.
  • With Catlike Tread: What's the best thing to do when sneaking into the rat-infested sewers to look for a friend? According to Twit, shouting their name at the top of your lungs.
  • 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.
  • Wizards Live Longer: The Starwives, magic-wielding monarchs, are given a much longer life span than ordinary creatures. For example, according to The Deptford Mice Almanack, Ysabelle was on the throne for nearly three hundred years. There's also Simoon, a jerboa prophet who is implied to be immortal.
  • Wicked Weasel: Wendel.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In The Oaken Throne, at the very end, all the evil has been defeated and everyone is celebrating. Though Ysabelle had previously rejected her love Vesper, she has come to her senses, deciding to give up the Starwifeship and run away with him as he wanted her to. She excitedly runs to find him, but during the brief period she left him alone, the spiteful ghost of Wendel Maculatum killed Vesper, ensuring that the curse he placed on him came true.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: In The Oaken Throne, which is set in the Middle Ages, the characters frequently alternate between using words like "thee", "thou", and "thy" and their more modern equivalents.
  • You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: This is the main issue in The Final Reckoning. How do they kill Jupiter if he's already dead?
  • You Dirty Rat!: With a few exceptions (such as Fleabee), all rats in this series are depicted as disgusting and evil.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: The captured bat Heglyr says this to the gathered squirrels of the Hazel Realm in The Oaken Throne because he knows his army will return at nightfall and launch an attack that they have no chance of winning.

Alternative Title(s): The Oaken Throne