The Rats of Hamelin

Written by Adam McCune Keith McCune
Review by Wendy Zollo

The Rats of Hamelin is a fusion of fantasy, folktale and a smattering of history, delicately entwined so that they fold into one another. It is the late thirteenth century. Johannes, an apprentice piper, is sent to the German town of Hamelin on a task that will hopefully earn him a place as a master piper in his guild. His directives are plain: liberate Hamelin from the scourge of rats that have overtaken the town, collect his prize, and make excellent use of it in a kindly and compassionate manner. Johannes quickly discovers that there are other rats besides the furry, chomping monsters he must deal with to achieve his end.

Johannes is a lively and fleshed-out individual, as are most of the McCunes’ characters, who handle the well-known tale with whimsy and shrewdness. The language is rich and melodic, and the authors maintain a vivacious flow throughout the novel, though they noticeably slither into contemporary idioms like, well, “like,” “you know,” and “I mean.” While not particularly vexing, they were noticeable compared to the tranquility of words found throughout.

The Rats of Hamelin is an inspired working of the famous folktale, one worth sharing with the entire family.