The Rat Prince: A New Twist on Cinderella

The Rat Prince: A New Twist on Cinderella

by Bridget Hodder


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374302139
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 08/23/2016
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 820,332
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Bridget Hodder was previously an archeologist and currently works to help families who struggle with autism. The Rat Prince is her debut novel. She lives with her family in New England.

Read an Excerpt

The Rat Prince

By Bridget Hodder

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2016 Bridget Hodder
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-30214-6


Prince Char

You know her as Cinderella.

But before her stepmother came to Lancastyr Manor, the humans called her Rose de Lancastyr.

They also called her beautiful.

This confused my rat-subjects and me, since we found her painfully unattractive, with her huge salad-green eyes, skin like cream, and long waves of butter-yellow hair. Yet regardless of her looks and the fuss people made of them, Lady Rose was both gentle and kind. So after her mother died — and was replaced three months later by a wicked stepmother, Lady Wilhemina — we felt pity for the girl. We comforted her and came to consider her a rat-friend.

Though we believed her to be a lackwit.

For what kind of human makes friends with rats?

Apparently, the same kind who lets a stepmother turn her into a kitchen maid and give her the new, insulting name of Cinderella.

A lackwit.

However, one hot morning in early September, made hotter by the fragrant, ever-burning cedar fire in the flagstone kitchen of Lancastyr Manor, I discovered we were mistaken.

* * *

"Ahhhh, baking day," I murmured to my trusty royal councillor and best friend, Swiss. "Quite my favorite time of the week." A rich, yeasty aroma filled the kitchen and made my whiskers quiver as he and I peered through a crack in the door of a cupboard.

Swiss whispered back, "Oh, Your Highness, just look at that bread. I'll wager it's crisp at the top and chewy in the center. Cook may be a spiteful rat-killer, but she certainly has a way with a loaf."

We watched from our hiding place while Cook and the kitchen boy, Pye, pulled the last loaves from the brick oven. They set them to cool on a large rack against the wall, near a spot where Swiss and I had long ago loosened a board to provide easy rat-access to this marvelous treat.


"We'll come back tonight to thieve more," I said. "But let's try for a bit right away. If we move fast enough, we can bite some off, taunt Cook, and make our escape."

"Yes!" Swiss replied with enthusiasm, rather than trying to stop me, as a truly prudent royal councillor should have done.

I smiled to myself. "Watch and wait, then move upon my command."

Cook picked up a corner of her stained apron, wiped it across her sweaty pink forehead, and shouted, "Cinderella!"

That name distracted me from my designs upon the bread. I pressed my eye closer to the crack in the door, seeing Cook frown as she batted at her wiry gray hair, which stood out in frizzy corkscrews around her face.

She shouted for Cinderella again, then grumbled to Pye, "Drat her lazy bones! She's supposed to mix up a lemon potion to get rid of Miss Eustacia's freckles in time for the royal ball at Castle Wendyn on Saturday. Prince Geoffrey will choose a wife that night, and we've got to help our Miss Eustacia catch his attention!"

I stifled a laugh. If I knew anything about humans — and I did — Lady Rose's older stepsister, Eustacia, would need a great deal more help than bleached freckles to attract the attention of a human prince. Nonetheless, the entire household and the stepmother, Lady Wilhemina, in particular, had been in a fever of anticipation for the past month, ever since the invitations had arrived. The king of Angland had invited the families of every eligible young lady in the capital city of Glassevale.

Pye remarked, "Poor Cinderella. She's had no rest, what with all the preparations for that fancy party." He was grimy and his homespun breeches were patched at the knees, but he had an intelligent look.

Cook gave a harsh laugh. "Ha! Are you in love with the wench, too? Menfolk are fools, from youngest to oldest, turned to corn mush by a smile and saucy cheeks."

"I'm not in love! You worked for Lady Wilhemina when she was married before — it's right strange you haven't noticed yet how hard she is on her servants." Missing the expression on Cook's face, the boy went on to mention Cook's rival, the housekeeper: "Mrs. Grigson says no servant ever left Lancastyr Manor willingly in the old days. The only one who left was my mam — and that's because she died! Now, since Lady Wilhemina came, Mrs. Grigson says it's impossible to keep staff."

Alas, Pye was not as smart as he looked.

"Why, you lout! Never you mind what that hoity-toity Mrs. Grigson says! You pay Lady Wilhemina respect, or I'll box your ears!" Cook raised her big, gnarled hands in the air as if to follow through on her threat.

Pye ducked and ran to the other end of the cavernous room, huddling behind some sacks of cornmeal and dried beans. "Please don't," he begged. "I'm sorry."

Cook grunted and dropped her hands. "Then keep your trap shut. God's Bones, I'm worn out. Up since four o'clock of the morning mixing and kneading those loaves, and then having to send up breakfast in bed to everyone at the same time as the batches were ready for baking."

"Well, Cinderella and I helped," Pye said.

Poor lad. She would surely box his ears now, unless her attention was diverted. I switched Swiss with my tail. "The bread. Now!"

We darted out from the cupboard, deliberately running across Cook's toes and leaping up to the lowest shelf of the rack. We each bit off a mouthful of crust before jumping down and disappearing into a convenient hole under a baseboard in the hall. It opened onto a rat-passage through the walls, which we followed up and around and back into the same kitchen cupboard we'd been in before. And there we sat, crunching our heavenly crusts in high glee as we watched Cook shriek, grab a broom, and beat about the floor as if we were still underfoot and available for thwacking. "Nasty, dirty, vile brutes! Lady Wilhemina was right! We must buy more poison and kill them all!"

After a moment's hysterics, she calmed somewhat and barked at Pye, "You, boy, stop gaping like a looby and go find Cinderella. Get her back to work. For the Lord's sake, what a to-do! I think I'd best go snatch a quick nap."

We knew from past experience that Cook's "snatch a quick nap" meant "guzzle the cooking sherry in the privacy of my room." She had never before taken one of these naps so early in the day, but Swiss and I had given her something to recover from just now. Which meant we could make further incursions upon the bread if we waited until she left.

Cook's footsteps shuffled away, fading from our hearing. Pye sighed, emerged from behind the sacks, and made off in the other direction.

At last. Swiss and I let loose the laughter we'd been holding back, making such a noise that we didn't hear the other footsteps as they approached. Suddenly, the cupboard door flew open to reveal Rose de Lancastyr.

My laughter halted abruptly; Swiss squeaked like a mouse.

It was Rose's turn to laugh. "You rascals! I wondered who was causing such a rumpus. I should have realized — it's baking day, so where else would you be but the kitchen?"

I answered her seriously, though I knew she, like the rest of her kind, was ignorant of rat-speech. "The kitchen is where smart rats belong. But you are the rightful lady of Lancastyr Manor. What are you doing here?"

The kitchen was where Rose spent most of her days. Although she was no longer allowed to eat much food, she seemed to be constantly in the process of preparing it — chopping, stirring, kneading, peeling. And in her rare moments of leisure, she would sit near the fireplace upon her three-legged stool, warming her toes and watching Cook with unusual care.

We never thought much about why she did so. If you had asked me at the time, I might have said she was keeping an eye on the ill-tempered woman in order to avoid being hit with a ladle or a wooden spoon.

"You naughty Blackie," Rose said to me, smiling. "Always the leader of the rats' kitchen raids!"

I had no way of telling her my name wasn't Blackie, but Char, in honor of the way I like my meats — grilled over an open fire, with fat crackling, black as my royal fur. There was also no means of letting her know I was not just a leader of the rats of Lancastyr Manor, I was their one and only ruler, the prince of the Northern Rat Realm. My realm encompassed the entire northern half of the human city of Glassevale. The Southern Rat Realm was now ruled by Princess Mozzarella and had been established by an offshoot of the original rats of Lancastyr Manor long ago. It was made up of the southern half of the city and also included Castle Wendyn and its surrounding estates.

Rose reached out and stroked the top of my head. "I need those lemons in that bowl behind you to whip up something for Eustacia. I think you'd better run along now."

Ignoring her patronizing tone, I leaned into her touch. I should have been far too conscious of my royal dignity to allow her to pet me thus. It almost placed me at the level of — dare I say it — a loathsome, purring cat. And yet I could not bring myself to put a stop to it.

"Your Highness," Swiss cautioned. "Let's go!"

I paid him no heed. This joyful petting might have continued for some time, had not Lady Wilhemina suddenly burst through the arched stone doorway.

We all froze.

Rose's skin suddenly became less the color of cream and more like the greenish tinge of skimmed milk. The only things moving on Swiss were his shivering whiskers.

I imagined I probably looked just as frightened as Swiss, though in reality what I felt was fury. For Wilhemina was our sworn rat-enemy; since her arrival the year before she had been waging a harrowing campaign against my people and me. We had lost several of our number — good rats and true — to her sly poisoning tactics.

"Cinderella!" she yelled.

The girl jerked her hand back and slammed the cupboard shut, plunging Swiss and me into safe darkness.

"Time to flee!" Swiss whispered. "Your Highness, what are you doing?"

"Peeking through the crack, of course. What does it look like I'm doing? Dancing the minuet?"

"But, my prince, if that woman finds us here we are surely doomed."

"Ha. If she dares lay a finger on me, I shall bite it off," I answered.

He jostled me a bit with his shoulder. "It is my responsibility to warn you when I think you're in danger."

"Be easy, Swiss. Wilhemina is not aware of our presence."

"And you call me your royal councillor," he grumbled. "When have you ever taken my advice?"

I ignored Swiss in favor of witnessing the scene unfolding in the kitchen.

Wilhemina towered over her stepdaughter. Her gown of robin's-egg blue silk rustled like the stealthy stir of a predator in the bushes. The elegance of her dress made Rose's tattered brown garment look even more shapeless than it had a moment before. The woman was doused in some sort of exotic perfume, drowning out the more pleasant scents in the room.

Swiss commented, "You must admit the stepmother's eyes are most alluring — small, dark, set close together. If you consider them along with her prominent nose, she appears almost ratlike."

"Very well, I admit it," I said with reluctance. "She's somewhat attractive. But her character is base."

"Lazy wench!" Wilhemina snarled at Rose. "Why is Eustacia still awaiting her bleaching potion? I told you to make it almost half an hour ago!"

Rose replied, "Do you not recall that you asked me to tend to the needs of my other sister, Jessamyn, first? I have only now come from her chambers."

Ah yes, Jessamyn — the younger, nicer stepsister.

"She is Miss Jessamyn to you, and no sister of yours!" Wilhemina shrieked and slapped her.

My tail stiffened, then slashed once behind me, like a whip.

One of the first things my mother had taught me in the days before I rose to rulership was how to control my temper. To plan my deeds, rather than react in the heat of the moment. So I did not spring into foolhardy action. I merely added the incident to the long list of things Wilhemina would someday regret.

"She will pay for that slap," I vowed. "When she least expects it, the woman will pay. I shall crunch her bones and suck out their marrow."

"Er, perhaps you should calm yourself, Prince Char," Swiss said, and sidled away from me.

Rose raised her hand to her cheek but kept her gaze toward the floor. Her tone was careful when she said, "There was no need to strike me. I've always done your bidding."

"Don't dare to argue with me, Cin-der-el-la!" Wilhemina snapped. The woman pronounced the syllables of the nickname slowly, insultingly.

"I apologize, ma'am," Rose said. There was no resentment in her voice, only the clear, harmonious tones of a well-bred young lady.

I was disappointed, as usual, in her response. No rat would have humbled herself thus before such a shrew.

But the girl's humility did not satisfy Wilhemina, who gave Rose a cold once-over with her eyes narrowed to slits. "Cinders in your hair, bare feet, dirty hands ... Who would think that folk once compared your beauty to your mother's? Though of course I never met the woman. Perhaps they called her Lady Jane the Lovely out of mockery rather than admiration."

Rose's fingers clutched a handful of her skirt till her knuckles whitened. "Your concern for my mother's reputation is most kind," she said. "I'm sure you've seen the portrait of her in the long gallery in the east wing of the manor. It is a good likeness." Then slowly, gracefully, Rose sank into a curtsy. She arched her long neck and stretched her arms behind her like a swan holding up its wings. I'd never seen a human female ever look quite so magnificently animal.

A curtsy that deep was meant to be performed only before royalty. Girls of the noble houses learned it before being presented for their debut at Castle Wendyn when they turned fifteen. We rats knew — in fact, the whole of Lancastyr Manor knew — that unlike Rose and her parents, Wilhemina and her daughters were not of noble blood and had never met the king or queen. This chewed away at Wilhemina's gut in much the way we rats would like to have done.

"My, my," said Swiss. "Now that is a curtsy."

Wilhemina's furious intake of breath betrayed that she, too, understood how her stepdaughter's gesture had shifted the balance of power between them back to Rose. She loomed up as if to strike the girl once more but halted when Rose finally raised her eyes, revealing a blaze of contempt so searing that even I was shocked by it.

Wilhemina sputtered briefly in the face of such intensity. Then she seemed to recover herself. "Carry out my orders, wench. And in case you were stupid enough to be wondering, you will certainly not be going to the ball day after tomorrow." She turned to quit the room and spat over her shoulder as she went: "You shall regret your disrespect. I swear it."

Rose held the curtsy and waited until Wilhemina was gone before she whispered, "Not as much as you shall regret yours."

Then at last, I understood.

Rose de Lancastyr was not a lackwit at all.

Like me, she was biding her time.



When my stepmother left the kitchen, I rose from my curtsy and counted to ten before allowing my wobbly knees to give way. I kept myself from falling by catching the smooth warm wood of a table behind me with the heels of my hands. Then I felt a surge of rage in my breast. For a moment I let myself imagine revenge upon Wilhemina, picturing ways of making her suffer for the things she'd done to me, my father, and the pride of my family lineage.

Suddenly Pye appeared, panting as if he'd been running up and down stairs. "Lady Cinderella, I was looking for you all over the manor. You seem overset — is something wrong?"

After taking a few deep, shuddering breaths, I was able to reply. "Thank you for your concern, dear Pye. I am quite well."

"But your cheek ..." He reached out a hand.

"Never mind me, Pye. I will be fine. You should return to your duties, or Cook will scold." I stood taller, placed a hand lightly upon his shoulder, and steered him toward the scullery.

I felt sympathy and shame that this boy — the orphan of our former kitchen maid, who had been supported by my parents until my mother's death — was now forced to work so hard at such a young age. If I ever succeeded in getting my stepmother out of Lancastyr Manor, I would see that Pye was allowed to enjoy a true childhood.


Excerpted from The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder. Copyright © 2016 Bridget Hodder. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Rat Prince: A New Twist on Cinderella 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
JLD78 More than 1 year ago
THE RAT PRINCE is a delicious read! The author delights with the traditional elements of the Cinderella tale alongside a new and creative story with fresh perspectives. The writing is fantastic - classic but not in any way stilted - and there are many fun and silly moments. Romance, intrigue, fantasy, humor - this book has it all!
SMParker More than 1 year ago
This Cinderella retelling was glorious and empowering and so, so lovely! I kept wishing for something to happen at the end *no spoilers here* and when it did I nearly danced! Hodder has created a glorious tale here, one in which Cinderella has so much agency and voice. And the prince? Oh, what she does with this character! I found myself cheering for the unlikeliest of heroes (you will too). But the underlying message in this tale is so brave and brilliant and true: that love comes from knowing a person, connecting with a person--and not a magical spell that bewitches one into love. Hodder’s debut is extremely clever and will appeal to middle grade readers as well as adults. You’ve never read a Cinderella retelling like this and I’m still smiling after lapping up the last page of this gorgeous story. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All I knew before reading was that the book reimagined the Cinderella story. I'm glad I didn't learn more about it before diving in, because there were quite a few twists that I didn't see coming. The story is told through dual narratives of Cinderella, or Lady Rose as she was formerly known, and Char, the Rat Prince. I appreciated the author's rendering of a strong Cinderella with compelling motivations and sympathies. And Char, the Rat Prince, was both charming and regal, while also 100% rat. I loved how the author took us inside a rat's brain, showing his motivations (food!) and the moral/honor code that governs the rats. It was all very well thought out. Also, I loved the classic fairytale feel of the novel. Plus, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and succeeds in making a rat look stately and dapper--no small feat! This is a wonderful book for the middle grade reader, and any reader who enjoys classic fairytales with a twist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I were to tell you that I had just finished one of the most delightful books I have ever read in my ENTIRE life, would you believe me? Well, you should because I just read and LOVED Bridget Hodder's THE RAT PRINCE. Let's start with the outside cover. Now, this cover is pretty special. That's Char, prince of the rats (northern kingdom). Char is noble and caring and dashing. He has a right-hand man (rat), Swiss, who is the kind of buddy that you want when you're running a kingdom. Now you have Cinderella or the lovely Rose. Beautiful, kind, and strong-willed but very mistreated by her evil stepmother. Now, throw in Beef One, Two and Three (you can never really know who's who - and this is only one example of the lovely humor Bridget Hodder sprinkles throughout), some kind and helpful mice, and magic and you have yourself a Cinderella story. BUT it's not the Cinderella story you expect. This is the real and true version. I read this book with a grin on my face the entire time. I also cried a little (in the car shop no less) but I was still smiling as I was crying. That is the true sign that you have something special on your hands. This book was incredibly charming. I loved it!
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
When I heard of this book I wasn't too keen on reading it. I mean RATS. But then I heard it was a Cinderella re-telling and I couldn't help but want to read it. I quickly added it to my TBR and bit my nails while I waited for it. Everyone thinks they know the real story of Cinderella, but everyone knows only what they WANT you to know. The "real" story can be found in-between these pages. It tells about Cinderella and the rat who is in love with her and how everything changes the night of the ball. In one word, this could definitely be described as cute. It had a great cast of characters and some trruly funny moments. I also thought it was cute because it gave an almost exact re-telling of Cinderella. As far as the ending, it was a lot better. I liked that it did give some variety on the tale. But then again, that may also be it's downfall. It seemed that there wasn't too much different about the re-telling for it to still be entertaining. I wanted to see more abut the rats and more about how they conducted business and treated their kingdom and more. It just seemed to be too much of the same story. But I did like that this story was also filled with some really great vocabulary. It will be great for children to learn some of the harder words (like sovereign and more. Not sure if that's a middle grade word, but I don't remember learning that until later.... I think.) It will do a 5th or 6th grade child well to read this and learn some words they may have not heard of before. This book wasn't the most entertaining, but was definitely still good in it's own right. I can see myself suggesting this to teachers and children looking for princess stories. It's a solid re-telling with a surprising ending that will leave them feeling "Happy Forever After."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is enchanting. I really had no idea what to expect, other than a retelling of Cinderella, but this was so much more than that. The chapters alternate point of view between the Rat Prince and Cinderella (Lady Rose), showing us there was much more going on in the manor than we've been told. The way the author twists and weaves the story makes it a whole new take on the classic. The characters drew me in--yes, especially the Rat Prince--and the story hooked me from the beginning. The voice is smooth and puts you right into that time period as if you're actually there. Fun, clever, and engaging! Definitely worth a read. :)
KathyMacMillan More than 1 year ago
Prepare to fall hard for noble, dashing Prince Char, sovereign of the Northern Rat Realm, who won his position through trials of strength and skill (and sausage-eating). Prepare to be charmed by the determined and lovely Rose de Lancastyr, called Cinderella by the evil stepmother who has made her a servant in her own home. Rose may seem weak, but really she is biding her time, using her servant status to keep an eye on the rat poison she suspects her stepmother is trying to kill her father with. Rose is aided by Char and his breed of intelligent rats, who have long been bonded with the Lancastyr family through an ancient spell by a goddess. When Rose makes a wish on an ancient ring, she awakens that goddess and sets into motion a series of events that will change her life and Char’s life forever. Transformed into a human footman, Char must do everything within his power to keep Rose from marrying Prince Geoffrey, a violent bully and heir to the human throne. The friendship that Rose and Char had as human and rat quickly blossoms into love when they both have opposable thumbs. Rose gives him the name you know better – Prince Charming – and in a faceoff with Prince Geoffrey, Char demonstrates that he is a consummate prince. This is a delightful twist on the familiar tale, full of characters you’ll want to get to know better. The two characters with the least agency in the traditional tale – the rat footman and Cinderella herself – become the drivers of change here. The worldbuilding is spot on, from the details of the rat throne room to rats’ travel arrangements through the sewers and relations with other rat kingdoms. Char’s point of view is especially delightful; after becoming human, he compares guilt to the feeling of having eaten a venomous lizard, and at one point he has to resist the urge to drop to all fours and scuttle through a crowd of people. Though light in tone, the story doesn’t gloss over the inherent murder, abuse, and cruelty in the tale, and so the conclusion is all the sweeter when our hero and heroine get their happily ever after.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Billed as a retelling of the Cinderella story, for me it was more evocative of A Little Princess with a dash of The Rescuers. Lady Rose (Cinderella) and Prince Char (the Rat Prince) are the perfect match in this romantic/animal comedy. Lovely book.
MGReader More than 1 year ago
Just when you think you know the Cinderella story, here comes this charming and captivating re-telling told in alternating perspectives —hers (Cinderella's) and his (Char, the Rat Prince). I loved the lyrical writing and the well-developed characters, especially the rats, who had their own culture, history, and divisions. I also very much appreciated the fact that of all the Cinderella telling I've ever read, this is one of the few that fully addressed my major problem with the story — why did Cinderella put up with this? FINALLY NOW WE KNOW. Overall this is a spectacular book that my 11 year old and I both adored. A perfect read for any middle grade reader.
MsVerbose More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book for an honest review. SO MUCH FUN!! I LOVED this book. The tale is familiar (Cinderella), but the spin was completely new. This is the tale of the Rat (who happened to be a prince) who was turned into one of the coachmen for Cinderella's ball. From page one, I was swept into the story, and despite Char being a rat, I just loved him. So noble. Kind. Intelligent. Wise. Compassionate. . . . And I could go on. But he was all the things a prince and hero should be. And Cinderella. Or rather Lady Rose. She was a heroine I can get behind. Yes, she submitted to her stepmother's will. Yes, she was meek and subservient. But she was strong. And Smart. And Kind. A loving daughter. A protectorate of the weak. She did not just wait for a prince to save her, but she was also not afraid to ask for help. A balance that is so hard to find. I was so sad when the book ended. I could have spent many more hours with these characters. I very highly recommend this book. One that I will definitely be buying so I can read and re-read this story to my heart's content.
MGRocks More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. THE RAT PRINCE is exactly the type of fairy tale retelling that I enjoy—clever, fun, and emotionally satisfying. The author has created characters you’ll root for—Prince Char and Rose (Cinderella) who are not afraid to fight for what’s right. There’s intrigue and suspense! And of course, a bit of romance. Young readers who enjoyed Avi’s Tales from Dimwood Forrest or Richard Peck’s The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail or Secrets at Sea will thoroughly enjoy this captivating tale. Bravo, Bridget! You’ve pulled off a magical enchantment of your own for lucky middle grade readers with this debut novel!
KidlitFan2016 More than 1 year ago
I thought I knew the story of CINDERELLA. Well, now I know the truth! THE RAT PRINCE, told in alternating voices of Prince Char (The Rat Prince) and Cinderella, gives the familiar fairy tale a surprising and delightful twist. Bridget Hodder has re-imagined this timeless story in a way that is not only engaging, but raises thoughtful questions about loyalty, integrity, and beauty. I adored meeting the dashing Prince Char and his lovable community of rats - Lady Apricot, Swiss, and even the lazy and self-absorbed Princess Mozzarella, just to name a few. And I equally loved spending time with Lady Rose (Cinderella), the cast of characters at Lancastyr Manor, and their enchanting family history that includes a magical ring, kept hidden for generations. THE RAT PRINCE will certainly be a big hit with middle grade readers, especially fans of fairy tale retellings and animal fantasies. Highly recommend!
QuinnenDonnelly More than 1 year ago
So you thought the Cinderella story hinged on a glass slipper and finding happiness with a random prince she just met? Well, think again! Bridget Hodder's inventive retelling of Cinderella begins with a rat, Prince Char, who lives in Lancastyr Manor, along with his many rat-subjects. Also in Lancastyr Manor is Rose, now insultingly called "Cinderella" by her stepmother, Wilhelmina. Her father is out of sorts with an Alzheimers-esque ailment, leaving Rose subject to the whims and impulses of the woman who treats her poorly. In chapters alternating between Char and Rose, we learn of a life-altering opportunity for Rose: a nearby prince hosting a ball, looking for a spouse. Could she be a fit? Could such a match solve the problems the rats are dealing with as well? There is much delight to be found in Hodder's lovely take on Cinderella. For one, the charming Char as one of our two narrators. His narration is clever and sweet, particularly as we see him transformed into a human for the night and suddenly quite taken with Rose. Avid readers of fairy tale retellings will enjoy seeing all of the attention paid to reworking the various key elements of the familiar story, eagerly anticipating the big night at the ball (I know I was!). There is so much more I want to say, but I fear spoiling the reading experience. Just magical.