Review: The Mousehunter by Alex Milay

Hey guys, got a question for you.

When you are out at a bookstore, what first catches your eye? The covers, right? Well that is how it is with me at least. A great cover can pull me in, or push me away from a book. And they always say, don't judge a book by it's cover.

That is so true I am finding out more and more, and is really true when it comes to this book. When I first saw the cover I said, "Hmmm, this might be a cute kid's book." I was right, but also very, very wrong. Turns out, it is a lot more here than what I thought there would be. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Mousehunter - By Alex Milay
A book review by Darcy Low

The MousehunterFrom the cover: Across seventeen seas, there is no mousehunting pirate as feared as the legendary Captain Mousebeard. He seeks out the rarest and most precious breeds of mice to collect and trade, his fearsome reputation preceding him wherever he goes. Emiline, mousekeeper to one of Old Town's wealthiest citizens; is anything but feared. So when her master puts a bounty on Mousebeard's head, she sees it as the chance of a lifetime. Her journey takes her on a high seas adventure, filled with swords and sea monsters, betrayal, lies, and the chance to capture the most dangerous man in mousing history.

This book really surprised me, like i said; I thought this was just going to be another kid's book. But it really turned out to be a great adventure book, one that really pulled me in and kept me interested.

The Mousehunter is set in a world where there are many, many species of mice, from Sharpclaws who have long razor sharp claws that can cut though anything including metal in seconds, to Powdermice, which are small mice used to run powder for cannons back and forth on ships.

When the book first starts out, we find Emiline trying frantically to get a Sharpclaw mice back in in his cage. She is all padded up, and I got the impression of a little girl dressed as a hockey goalie. (Pretty cute.) Emiline is a orphaned girl living in the house of the richest mouse collector in all of Old Town, Isiah Lovelock. He has been collecting mice for years and is always looking for more, including some of the rarest mice. He has even written, Mousehunter's Almanac; which deals with hunting, collecting and raising mice. This has become Emiline's bible, and she has really gotten good at doing everything the book says. But she feels that she is not where she needs to be, she wants with all her heart to be a mousehunter.

One night late at night, a dead pirate is washed ashore bearing a wooden box tied around his neck. Inside the box, there is a warning to Isiah Lovelock. We learn that the feared pirate Mousebeard has found something incredibly rare, something that Lovelock will stop at nothing to get. He hires the pirate mercenary, Captain Devlin Drewshank. (He reminded me a lot of Indiana Jones in a way, a bit more egotistical). He is given the job of finding Mousebeard, and stopping him by any means, Lovelock tells him that he is the only person that is skilled enough to bring him finally to justice. Drewshanks agrees but with reluctance, even though he has ego about him, he still; deep down has some personal doubts that come out later.

Emiline over hears all of this, and sees this as her chance to get out into the world and finally become a Mousehunter. She packs what little she has, and goes to the docks to sneak on board Drewshank's ship, she is also very upset that she was not able to find the Sharpclaw. It is such a dangerous mouse, that if it should get out into the world; it could be very bad. Her fears are soon realized when she gets to the boat and finds it in utter chaos, the Sharpclaw has made it on board the ship and a a young boy Emiline's age is trying he best to get it caught. Emiline, feeling guilty; helps the boy capture the mouse and wins the admiration of Drewshanks and her way on board the ship. Scabbers, the young boy; feels put out by Emiline taking over, but later the two become good friends. I really liked his character, he does really want to be a mousecatcher it seems he is more at home as a pirate.

Lovelock comes down and Emiline hides so not to be caught by her former employer, but the butler sees her and she tells him where she is going and why. At first he tells her this is far to dangerous for a young girl, but seeing how determined she is; he tells her to be careful and watchful. He also gives her a dagger, telling her there is a lot more going on than what appears. The ship sets out and Emiline's adventure really begins. As the journey continues, she becomes better at catching mice and also helps Scabbers with his job. He also teaches her a lot about being a pirate and everything to expect while at sea. While Emiline is up in the crow's nest, the ship is attacked by a sea monster, and is badly damaged.

Let me paused there a minute, and tell you about the creature itself. The creature is man made, by that I mean that it was once a breed of mouse that when thrown into the sea, becomes a giant sea monster. Now that has to be the most original monster I ever read about. And it really got me going.

Emiline is thrown overboard, but is rescued by Scabbers and the first mate. While in port making repairs, we learn that the butler was correct, there is far more going on here than just hunting down a dangerous pirate. This just adds to Drewshanks doubts and fears, but he has been hired to find Mousebeard and he decides to press on. While out to sea again, a mysterious fog comes up, so thick that you can hardly see your hand in front of your face. And it is FOLLOWING Drewshank's ship.

When the fog catches up to them and engulfs them, they see Mousebeard's ship, The Sea Shark. A battle starts, but Drewshank's cannon balls are of no use. The Sea Shark is a made of heavy metal armour, the cannon balls have little effect. The battle is very short and Drewshank and the crew are captured. Mousebeard comes on deck, as fearsome as all the legends say; and tells them they are all his prisoners. They found Mousebeard, but they are now his prisoners.

How will they escape? How will Emiline ever become a Mousehunter now? And what has Mousebeard found that is so important to Lovelock?

I loved this book, it was filled with action, plot twits and humor as well. The only thing that I had a problem with was the characters. I like them, but I really think the writer could have fleshed them out a lot more than he did. Emiline, herself we have no idea of her past, why she is a orphan, how she became a mousecatcher in the house of the richest man in town or really much about her at all. We are just thrown in to her story at the present date. I am hoping that her back story will come out later on. I don't want to give the impression that this took me out of the story any, it didn't.

The writer kept the pace going fast, and the plot thickened a lot as well as the story went along. I liked how there would be a fight or a battle, then after the scene would go to someone else or something else that was happening in the story to fill us in on all the plot twists. And boy, are there ever twists in this story.

I can't say much more, without giving away stuff. If you like adventure stories, stories of pirates; or even stories of mice you are going to like this one. It was really good and surprising as well.

This is Mr. Alex Milway's first novel, but he has written a lot of short stories and written for magazines before this. According to the back cover, he lives in England and had "Run in with a particularly deadly Sharpclaw, but lived to tell the tale". hehe.

There is a web site for the books, this is the first one of a trilogy. But I will warn you; DON'T GO HERE UNTIL YOU READ THE FIRST BOOK! The title of the second will spoil the first book for you. But the web site is really fun, there is a lot of information on the books and the author, along with a short video on some of the mice in the books.

http://www.themousehunter.com

You can also follow Mr. Milway on his blog here, to see what he is up to and what he is working on.

And I managed to find for you guys the cover artist's blog page as well. 🙂

http://cbcangaart.blogspot.com/2008/10/mousehunter.html

So check these out and go check the book out, I think you will like this series

The Mousehunter by Alex Milway
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316024554
ISBN-13: 978-0316024556

Comments

  1. Great review Darcy. Question - any books that you recommend for 5 - 7 year olds? My little guy loves listening to The Magic Tree House series. I'd love to get him other series that he can both listen to and grow into reading.

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