Thursday 7 April 2022

The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice

The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice by Maggie Jankuloska (MidnightSun Publishing) PB RRP $17.99 ISBN 9781925227949

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

In 1665 in a small town in France, twelve-year-old Marie is set to become a maid, an arrangement by her strict working-class parents. She longs for freedom and adventure and often dreams of another life for herself. Marie’s situation worsens when an unfortunate incident sees her disgraced and sent out of town as punishment. Filled with fear and humiliation, Marie is forced to leave her parents and her beloved twin brother to become an apprentice to the enigmatic ratcatcher. Now, life as a maid seemed much more appealing compared to the ‘undignified and dirty’ job of a rat-catcher’s apprentice. Despite a shaky start, Marie settles into her new role and works hard to earn money for her parents back home. Little does she know that her new life will bring a new sense of purpose along with plenty of adventure, a myriad of challenges and a surprising friendship.

The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice is a middle-grade historical fiction narrative featuring a strong female protagonist and uplifting themes of resilience, hope, courage and belonging. However, younger readers should be aware that it also contains some heavier themes, including mass deaths from the plague. The Rat-Catcher’s Apprentice is a fantastic debut novel from Maggie Jankuloska and is highly recommended for readers aged 10 years and older.

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