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Nightmare Fuel / Deptford Mice

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"Now, surrender to me the ninth piece, or must I tear it from your poisoned corpse?"
"I really enjoyed writing this one, especially as it started off with such a bang, I don't think there's been a higher death count in one of my opening chapters."
Robin Jarvis, on The Oaken Throne

The Deptford Mice trilogy by Robin Jarvis is marketed at children. Outwardly, that might seem the obvious audience, as the stories are about cute anthropomorphic rodents. But if you actually read the books, you'll find that they are full of Family-Unfriendly Violence and characters suffer Cruel and Unusual Deaths.

Warning: Unmarked spoilers ahead.

  • In The Dark Portal:
    • Albert Brown is caught eavesdropping on Jupiter and his lieutenant, Morgan. He is taken in to the portal where he is presumably peeled (that is, skinned) by Jupiter himself.
    • While exploring Morgan's personal larder, Piccadilly and Oswald stumble across a pile of mouse skins. Oswald recognises one of them as the remains of a mouse named Bib who had disappeared. When Morgan arrives, the pair are forced to hide among the skins, which is an incredibly uncomfortable situation for Oswald especially.
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    • At one point, a rat named Smiler is introduced. How did he get his name? He insulted Morgan in his youth and was punished by having his lips cut off, so he "smiles" perpetually.
    • When Fletch discovers Jake in the temple of the Raith Sidhe, he mocks and attacks him. Jake is the winner of the fight, and he snaps Fletch's head off, causing blood to spill everywhere.
    • One-Eyed Jake's punishment from Jupiter is to be gradually burned alive by an inextinguishable flame. He tries to put it out by jumping into the sewer water, but he doesn't make it in time and all that is left of him is his eye patch.
    • The Black Death, the "eternal reward" Jupiter has waiting under Blackheath for his rats. They reach it shortly after Jupiter has transformed the plague on the bones of Black Death victims into an Eldritch Abomination, which then spills out of its prison and kills them all, apparently by infecting them with fast-acting bubonic plague (they turn black and swell up as they die). What Jupiter planned to do with it is not revealed, but he apparently wanted to spread it past the sewers.
  • In The Crystal Prison:
    • After being tormented several nights by a voice only she can hear, Madame Akkikuyu discovers its source, much to her terror; a tattooed face on her ear is moving and talking. What's worse, it is eventually revealed that it is animated by the spirit of Big Bad Jupiter.
    • Two mice are found strangled, and the tortured face of one is described in graphic detail.
    • Jenkin Nettle is carried off and eaten by an owl. His grief-stricken father then finds the owl pellet containing his mousebrass.
    • Madame Akkikuyu is tricked into performing a ritual that will free the spirit of Jupiter from the other side. He needs a new body as his old one was destroyed, so he casts a spell that begins to change Akkikuyu into a cat. She is horrified at the thought of Jupiter taking control of her body, and leaps on a bonfire to escape, killing herself.
  • In The Final Reckoning:
    • During a meeting, Morgan rips out the throat of a dissenting rat and tosses his corpse to the crowd for them to feed on.
    • Oswald enters a secret chamber far beneath St. Paul's Cathedral to retrieve the Book of Hrethel in the hopes that its magic can defeat Jupiter. It's hidden in a niche behind the dried-up, mummified corpse of Hrethel himself. His eyes are like "two brown raisins on stalks" and his lips are shrunken and pulled back over his yellow teeth, forming "an alarming sneer". As if that wasn't bad enough, there is even an illustration of the aforementioned bat mummy in most editions.
    • Piccadilly's home in the city, Holeborn, is attacked by Morgan's rat army and every single mouse there is slaughtered. This is described in graphic detail. The rats eat the mice, frying up their ears and making brown gravy. They also use their skins as grisly puppets to reenact the battle. After they leave, Piccadilly arrives and almost has a mental breakdown at the sight of the horrific carnage. He is brought back to reality by the powers of his friend Barker... who happens to be the rat god Bauchan in disguise.
    • Jupiter's army of ghosts have hollow eye sockets and their fur is matted with clots of blood. Each of them carries an ice spear, the very one that killed them. The spirit of the pedlar mouse Kempe (murdered by Jupiter earlier in the book) is particularly horrifying. He still carries the bags he did in life, but now instead of goods they contain grinning skulls and bundles of bones.
    • When Oswald confronts Jupiter, an entrance to the void opens up and he is sucked in. It would seem that he has not technically died, but he might as well have because he has passed beyond the living plane and, doomed to eternal blackness, can never return.
    • When Smiff and Kelly are killed - Jarvis describes in loving detail how Smiff’s decapitated head is put on a spike and ‘wags above the crowd’ while they trample Kelly’s blood into the snow until it becomes ‘pink slush’. What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?!
  • In The Alchymist's Cat:
    • Mr. Balker is ambushed by two men who stab him to death in front of his young friend, Will, who is subsequently blamed wrongly for the crime.
    • Dr. Spittle orders Will to retrieve the hair of a hanged man. As he reaches out to cut some off with a pair of scissors, the suspended corpse rotates so that he sees the face. The dead man's eyes are bulging from their sockets and his tongue is sticking out. Will is so startled by the sight that he screams and loses his balance.
    • The rat Heliodotus is given a piece of bacon coated in a potion prepared by Dr. Spittle, who is testing to see if it is poison. It is, and the rat dies a horrible death, convulsing wildly with his hair falling out. "Hobb is come!" are his dying words. In a later scene, prior to seeing the body of his own sister, Jupiter finds Heliodotus' pitiful body preserved in a jar.
    • Imelza is beaten to death by frightened townspeople who mistakenly believe that cats and dogs are spreading the plague. Her daughter, Dab, bears horrified witness to this.
    • One night, Dab is taken away by Dr. Spittle and killed, solely for the purpose of dissecting her. Later, her brother Jupiter finds her pickled body in a cabinet, which understandably causes him to go berserk with rage towards Spittle.
    • The skeleton of Magnus Zachaire rises from the grave, arrives at the apothecary shop, and attacks Dr. Spittle.
  • In The Oaken Throne:
    • With the threat of an approaching attack on Coll Regalis, Ysabelle is forced to leave for Greenreach so she can fulfill her destiny and become the Starwife. Her parents and most of the inhabitants of the realm will stay behind, fighting a battle they have no chance of winning. When Ysabelle and everyone accompanying her say their goodbyes, they know that they will never see their loved ones again. As they are traveling, they witness fires from the battle in the distance, and a distraught Ysabelle senses the pain of her parents at the very moment they are killed.
    • Ysabelle and part of her squirrel entourage are captured by the followers of a Religion of Evil known as Hobbers. Three of her guards are taken and skinned alive in a sacrifice to their god Hobb. Afterwards their bodies are eaten by the cult members.
    • Vesper, Ysabelle, Giraldus, and Tysle are menaced by grotesque creatures of bones, sticks, and pond weed who emerge from a lake and attempt to drag them down into its depths. They are animated by the spirits of dead animals who had themselves drowned in the water and want others to share their fate.
    • On their journey, Ysabelle and her friends encounter a kindly mouse couple gathering firewood. Later, when they are taunted by the Hobbers, the head of the husband is tossed out to them, wrapped in the scarf he had been wearing.
    • After discovering Wendel's true identity as the high priest of Hobb, Tysle is found by Wendel himself and skinned alive before he can tell anyone. Fenny and Vesper follow a blood trail down a dark tunnel which leads to his corpse. They emerge and, deeply disturbed, give the news. The intense display of grief exhibited by Tysle's friend Giraldus is sad and alarming at the same time.
    • The survivors of the attack on Greenreach were led down into a chamber beneath the Hallowed Oak, where they were fed to Morwenna's pet toads. When she is led to the same chamber, Ysabelle sees the skull of a squirrel, and so she realises that that was their fate (and a fate she is to soon share, but she is rescued by Vesper before it can happen).
    • The rat god Hobb finally emerges from the earth, and he is horrifying, so much so that some of his followers actually kill themselves so they don't have to look at him or hear his voice. In some editions of the book, there is an illustration of Hobb drawn by the author, and he's just as frightening as you would imagine.
    • Morwenna, wearing the Silver Acorn necklace, is jubilant to see Hobb, until she realises that he is reaching for her. A curse (intended for Ysabelle) had been placed on the pendant so that when Hobb arrived, he would kill whoever was wearing it. Desperately, Morwenna tries to tear the Silver Acorn from her neck, but it is too late. Hobb breathes fire over her and she burns to death.
  • In Thomas:
    • The villains use knives that are dipped in venom. One prick from these blades ensures that the victim will have an agonizing death as they slowly melt into a pile of black sludge. This happens multiple times in the novel, most notably when:
      • The bosun of the Calliope, who possesses information that would blow Dahrem's cover, is violently attacked and killed by him. In addition to being poisoned, his body is cut in half and cast overboard.
      • When Dimmy reveals himself to be Dahrem, he threatens to kill the temple maiden Neltemi unless Mulligan hands over the ninth fragment. Mulligan is ready to do so, but Neltemi grabs hold of Dahrem's knives and plunges them into her own throat so he can escape.
      • Attempting to kill the unconscious Dahrem, Mulligan accidentally pricks his finger on the former's knives, dooming himself. His death, which Thomas and Woodget bear horrified witness to, is described in graphic and gruesome detail.
    Emitting a strangled gasp, he slumped into the grass like a salted slug; threads of oily smoke streamed from his ears and the slime-filled sockets that had once housed his eyes crumbled and caved into the decaying skull.
    • When Mulligan arrives on the island of Crete, he discovers that the Temple of the Twelve Maidens has been destroyed and everyone there has been savagely slaughtered. There is a pile of bodies, and nearby nine decapitated heads have been arranged in such a way that they resemble a wriggling snake. Beneath them the words "Nine bright stars from out the void" are written in blood.
    • Adepts of the Scale have the ability to transform into reptiles by pulling off their mammalian skin. When Dahrem does this in front of the protagonists, they at first think he has gone mad and is pulling himself apart.

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