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Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1


Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1

written and illustrated by Alan Snow

Welcome to Ratbridge. A place unlike anything you've heard of before. Where humans and unique beings such as boxtrolls and cabbageheads live side by side. Unfortunately, life is not as harmonious as it seems and the majority of boxtrolls, cabbageheads and a variety of other creatures --- often referred to as underlings ---have to live underground in the Underworld.

For Arthur, a young boy who lives in the Underworld with his grandfather William, nocturnal visits to Ratbridge are considered only for means of survival, not for fun. During one of his late-night raids, Arthur has a close call after taking a bunch of bananas from a lady's garden. Using a pair of mechanical wings his grandfather made, Arthur flies to the abandoned Cheese Hall and takes in the scenery from his vantage point on the Hall's roof. It is here that Arthur begins his next adventure.

While following a group of riders and their "horses" on an illegal cheese hunt, Arthur lands himself in some trouble with the hunt's leader, a wicked portly man named Snatcher who steals Arthur's wings and sets his pack of cheese-hounds on the young boy. Things go from bad to worse when Arthur realizes that his only means of escape to the Underworld have been glued shut. Luckily he is rescued and meets the unusual family living in an old petshop called Here Be Monsters! His rescuer is a sweet-natured boxtroll named Fish who lives with two other boxtrolls --- Shoe and Egg --- along with a visiting cabbagehead named Titus. The patriarch of the family is a retired lawyer named Willbury Nibble, who offers his assistance in helping Arthur get back to his grandfather, whom Arthur and his new friends are able to speak to via Arthur's doll radio.

It soon becomes apparent, however, that all the routes from Ratbridge to the Underworld have been sealed off and that Arthur is not the only enemy of the Cheese Guild. As a bizarre chain of events occurs (including one involving a greedy fashionista, her "fashion victims" and miniature underlings), Arthur is introduced to more friendly faces --- such as Marjorie, the frustrated inventor, and the crew of the Ratbridge Nautical Laundry --- and begins to uncover the secret evil plot (involving fondue) that could mean the end of Ratbridge forever.

A delightful new original series reminiscent of the classic works of Roald Dahl, The Ratbridge Chronicles is an entertaining adventure that is sure to earn rave reviews from fans both young and old. The only drawback is that HERE BE MONSTERS! seems to end rather quickly, despite its length. Hopefully it won't be too long before the next installment of The Ratbridge Chronicles makes its way to bookstores. Meanwhile, this reviewer will be drinking cups of cocoa while waiting patiently for Alan Snow's series to continue.

Reviewed by on August 29, 2014

Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1
written and illustrated by Alan Snow

  • Publication Date: August 28, 2007
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0689870485
  • ISBN-13: 9780689870484