Rating: 4 of 5
Certainly as gruesome as any tale by the Brothers Grimm, maybe even more so. Filled with melancholy and misanthropy. NOT for those seeking fluffy fairy-tale retellings.
The Coachman Rat used the tale of Cinderella as a way to explore the cruelty and selfish motives of man, what is “good” and what is “evil”, what it means to be human, and what differentiates man from animal and animal from man. From the beginning I had a sense of foreboding that the rat’s story would not end well, and was I ever right! Greed, ambition, ignorance, hate and murder abound.
If you banish the notion of happily-ever-afters before reading this book and you’re not picky about fairy-tale retellings that wander away from the original(s) early on in the story, you may enjoy The Coachman Rat. I just happen to like exploring the darker themes of fairy tales and nursery rhymes, especially from an otherwise overlooked character’s point of view.
Footnote: With regard to labels and tags I might consider The Coachman Rat more fantasy inspired by a fairy tale rather than a purist retelling. Perhaps even “reimagined” would be more accurate.
Read online at Hope Corner. (I don’t know why, but several of Wilson’s works are available for free download from this website. I bought a used copy of the hardcover edition since I don’t read ebooks.)