Cover image for The twyning
The twyning
Blacker, Terence, author.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2014.

Physical Description:
415 pages ; 22 cm
"This is a story of courage, of sacrifice, and of survival. This is the story of a rat and a boy whose fates become inextricably linked as their two worlds collide. Eften, a bold young ratling, dares to journey above the underground rat kingdom, where he discovers Dr. Ross-Gibbon's plan to exterminate the rat population. Dogboy, assistant to Dr. Ross-Gibbon, is an abandoned thirteen-year-old with a gift for understanding animals. As war wages between the human world and the rat kingdom. Doyboy must decide where his allegiances truly lie."
General Note:
Includes a glossary in terms used in the Kingdom.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Audubon Library Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Newstead Library Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In a harsh and dangerous world, a rat and a boy must each choose their way as their fates become inextricably linked.

Efren is a young rat, unnoticed and timid among the kingdom of rats living in the London sewers. When the king dies, leaving the kingdom in upheaval, only Efren dares to journey into the human world, where he discovers a human doctor's plan to destroy London's entire rat population. Meanwhile, Peter, otherwise known as Dogboy, does odd jobs for both the scheming doctor and the town ratcatcher. But his gift for understanding animals -- even rats -- forces him to decide where his allegiances truly lie. Dogboy and Efren, along with the waifish girl Caz and her pet rat, Malaika, set out to test the strengths of friendship and loyalty against the gut-wrenching cruelties of the world.

Author Notes

Terence Blacker is the author of numerous books for children and adults and is a columnist for the Independent. This is his first book with Candlewick Press. He lives in the English countryside in a house that he converted from a goose hatchery.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Watership Down meets A Tale of Two Cities in this grim animal tale. Efren is just a humble rat in the kingdom, but when he witnesses the beloved king captured and killed by a scientist, he sets off a series of catastrophic events. Meanwhile, late-nineteenth-century street urchin Peter called Dogboy by most reluctantly helps Dr. Ross-Gibbon on his quest to eradicate the town's rat population in a program the obsessed scientist affectionately calls the war on rats. In chapters alternating between Efren's and Peter's perspectives, Blacker tells the story of a town whipped up into a fervor over their rodent enemies, and a rat community desperately trying to defend themselves against the ever-more coordinated human attacks while they simultaneously face down their dictatorial leader. While this novel is not for the squeamish rat-on-rat and dog-on-rat violence is frequent and often gruesome (including a rat field-surgery scene) it's a meaningful story, both in the human world and in Blacker's impressively comprehensive rat society, of the creeping dangers of mass hysteria and the power of bravery and compassion.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this painful but mesmerizing tale, Blacker (Parent Swap) introduces a society of rats living in the sewers of Victorian London; his successful merger of sentience with the realities of rodent behavior is reminiscent of the rabbits of Richard Adams's classic Watership Down. Thirteen-year-old Peter, who lives in a garbage dump with his younger friend Caz, scratches out a living catching rats for the local "sportsmen" and their dogs. He also works for Dr. Ross-Gibbon, a monomaniacal scientist who wants to wipe out all of the rats in London. Efren, an impulsive young rat living in the Kingdom of elderly King Tzuriel, is restless and has trouble following orders. When Peter captures the dying King for the doctor's experiments, Efren reports this to his superiors, leading to outrage in the kingdom; matters worsen quickly after the doctor puts his deadly plan into action. Well-wrought characters (both human and rat), a compelling presentation of difficult moral questions, and a devastating portrayal of society's dark underbelly make this novel hard to forget. Ages 12-up. Agent: Caroline Sheldon, Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-10-Set in an unnamed year in London's past, an orphan known as Dogboy and a young rat named Efren must work together to save both of their societies. When the rat king dies, it is Efren who sees the truth of the matter and must work with Dogboy to prevent an all-out war between humans and rats. Told in alternating chapters between the rodent and human protagonists, Blacker's novel introduces both the world of Dickensian street orphans and the hierarchical rat kingdom. The suspense builds as the characters' worlds come closer and into conflict. This book will appeal to readers who are looking for a step up from the "Redwall" series (Philomel), but are still interested in an action adventure filled with a magical merging of the known human and mythical animal worlds. However, gory elements might make it a bit scary for some elementary-aged readers. The primary weakness in this novel is the similarity between the voices of Dogboy and Efren. Still, both characters are relatable and readers will cheer for them as they find strength and grow in their adventures. For a book with a dire and at times bloody premise, the overall mood of hope and friendship will sustain readers long after they finish.-Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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