If you’re tired of slightly twee books about anthropomorphic animals, don’t read this book or its sequels…because all four are wall to wall talking rodents. That said, if you do like animals who act like humans but aren’t crazy about epic fantasy with a medieval setting1, these are for you.
Time Stops for No Mouse is the first of four books about Hermux Tantamoq2, a mouse watchmaker. As the book starts, he leads a happy and fulfilled though somewhat banal bachelor existence between his shop and his home, between clockworks and his pet ladybug, Terfle, and the occasional coffee break at the doughnut shop. Drama is brought into his life when Linka Perflinger, the famous aviatrix, brings her smashed wristwatch in for Tantamoq to return to perfect timekeeping. He does, but she never returns to collect it–rather a tough rat attempts to redeem the watch but does not have the claim reciept, rousing Tantamoq’s suspicions. He tracks her down, discovering that she’s been captured by a gang of rats using a health spa as a cover for inhumane3 experiments. The rats want the plant she brought back from the jungles, which is the basis for an elixir of youth, rejuvenation and healing.
Who was this book intended for? Frankly, I’m not sure. It’s one of these series which could be either intended for kids but which adults enjoy, or vice versa. There are a number of situations which are funnier if you’re an adult–Tantamoq squiring a blind sculptor to the opera, or getting stuck at one of those ghastly health spas which serve two mouthfuls of something unidentifiably healthful and expect one to exercise All. The. Time. On the other hand, there’s nothing that’s inappropriate for kids–the relationships are chaste and all the good characters have a happy ending–and I can see kids being interested in stories about talking mice, whereas the more cynical adults would be rolling their eyes about anthropomorphic animals in a realistic modern setting. Perhaps for kids whose reading skills have outpaced their maturity? those who’re prone to nightmares? adults who enjoy fantasy?
As with most series, I think the first is the best, though I’ve read and enjoyed the second and third also. Overall, I’d say they were quick fluff reads, enjoyable but with no hidden depths or layers of meaning. Read them, enjoy them, but don’t think too hard about them.
1Narnia or Redwall, your choice
2brace yourself, the names are all like this. Apparently, the protagonist’s name came from a Scrabble-like game in which you arrange random letters into a character’s name and must describe them.