Review: The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice by Maggie Jankuloska
The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice is Maggie Jankuloska’s debut novel. I was lucky enough to read it before it was published and have watched its journey to publication. Although I’m not the book’s target audience (the book is middle grade, aimed at younger readers), I fell in love with the story the moment I read it. I can’t wait to see what Maggie has in store for us next.
Set in 1665, the story follows twelve year old Marie Perrin. Marie is set to become a maid, although she longs for adventure and excitement. When Marie accidentally ruins a wedding dress her mother is working on, her family falls into debt and Marie is sent away to become a rat-catcher’s apprentice for Gustave Renard. Gustave was one of my favourite characters in the book. I really enjoyed the complexity in which he was written. Maggie has a knack for writing stimulating characters that steer away from the conventional and break down stereotypical norms and ideas. This is one of the reasons Marie’s character resonated with me so much – Marie is such a plucky young girl. She dares to dream of more for herself and is always seeking out a better life for herself and her family. Marie does not let herself be defined by her gender or her class, and this was exciting to read in a book for younger readers.
While Marie is learning how to set rat traps, a plague enters her town. Danger is suddenly everywhere. Are rats responsible for the spread of the illness? Suddenly, Marie faces a new challenge.
Action packed and full of adventure, this is also a book full of heart and hope. I really liked that the book deals with some of the harsher realities of life, including class, societal norms, family and separation. Indeed, the story doesn’t shy away from darker themes, dealing with death, grief and loss, however it is ultimately an uplifting story. Marie is resourceful and brave, and her courage and quick thinking is something to aspire to.
I whole-heartedly recommend reading The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice by Maggie Jankuloska no matter what your age as this is an engaging, well-written, and thought-provoking story.
Out now, you can buy The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice at any good book store or online.