Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Tag: Mice

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press – book review by Fred Patten

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The kingdom of the Sun and Moon CoverThe Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press. Maps.

Bellevue, WA, Parkers Mill Publishing, September 2014, trade paperback $11.99 ([xv +] 297 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $0.99.

This Young Adult fantasy (winner of a 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award, for Teen Fiction (13-18 Years), of the Independent Book Publishers Association) is set in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, home of the Habsburg monarchs of Austria, about 1820. In those days almost all royal palaces had large populations of mice (so did the average citizens’ houses), so the 19th century map of the palace and its grounds is accurate as to the location of the fictional mouse Kingdom of the Double-Headed Eagle.

The König is a tyrant.

His subjects are starving.

And all-out war is fast approaching.

Will a pair of young, courageous

Brothers save their kingdom? (blurb)

Read the rest of this entry »

No Time Like Show Time, by Michael Hoeye – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.  Fred writes: “A few reviews of furry books that I wrote in 2003 or 2004 have vanished from the Internet.  I wrote them for the first version of Watts Martin’s Claw & Quill site, which he has apparently taken down. Here they are back online.”

showtimeNo Time Like Show Time: A Hermux Tantamoq Adventure, by Michael Hoeye.
NYC, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, September 2004, hardcover $14.99 (277 pages).

Hoeye’s Hermux Tantamoq novels are one of the major publishing-industry success stories of the decade. His first was rejected by all major publishers. So he self-published it and its sequel, sent free copies to dozens of libraries and reviewers, and got so many rave reviews that the big publishers quickly changed their minds. Time Stops for No Mouse (2000) and The Sands of Time (2001) were reprinted by Putnam in 2002.

Hermux Tantamoq is a young watchmaker in the mouse city of Pinchester who lives alone with his pet ladybug, Terfle. In the first novel, daring aviatrix-explorer Linka Perflinger brings her watch to his shop for repair. When she disappears and a shady rat tries to claim it, Hermux investigates and is drawn into an old-fashioned pulp-thriller adventure to save her. The Sands of Time is a similar adventure in which Hermux, Linka, and an old chipmunk explorer search a distant desert for the buried ruins of a forgotten cat civilization while being hunted by mouse-supremacist assassins who want to suppress the knowledge that there was ever a pre-mouse empire.

Hermux got into those adventures mostly by accident. He was happy to fade back into anonymity in his watch shop at their end. But he got enough publicity that when theatrical impresario Fluster Varmint starts receiving death threats, he misremembers Hermux as a famous detective and calls on him to investigate. Hermux is reluctant until he discovers that his least-favorite Pinchester celebrity, arrogant cosmetics tycoon Tucka Mertslin, is plotting to take over the city’s historic palace-theater, now the Folies-type Varmint Variety Theater, and turn it into a garish cosmetics office-showroom.

“[Hermux] rushed through the doors of the Varmint Variety Theater, barely pausing to appreciate the workmanship of their pumpkin-vine hinges and matching wrought-iron doorknobs. He was in such a hurry that he scooted right through the historic grove of artificial aspen trees with their hand-blown Spiffany glass leaves. Crossing the lobby to the box office, Hermux scarcely gave the exquisite floor a glance. […] The box office occupied a rustic hut that sat beside an authentic reproduction of a waterfall. […]” (pgs. 13-14)

Hermux will do anything to save the lovely building. But he is only one mouse, and Mertslin has the support of Pinchester’s Weekly Squeak (she is one of its leading advertisers). When Mertslin learns that Varmint’s ownership of the Theater is challengeable (he bought it long ago with a massive loan from the Theater’s then-leading star, who disappeared after a mysterious tragedy so Varmint has not been able to repay the loan), she hires lots of lawyers to try to get the missing Nurella Pinch declared the legal owner of the Theater, then legally dead with herself as the executrix of Pinch’s estate. Meanwhile, things are more dangerous than either suspect, because the hoodlum that Mertslin uses to scare Varmint decides that it is to his advantage to really start murdering people to gain a blackmail hold over Mertslin.

Most of the characters in Show Time are mice (Fluster Varmint is “a barrel-chested mouse with a big baritone”, while his daughter and manager Beulith is an attractive mouse with “two perfect front teeth — long, elegantly arched, and tinted a very pleasing pale yellow”), but there are also a flying-squirrel messenger boy, a hedgehog bookkeeper, such would-be actors as “A noisy group of prairie-dog impersonators wearing matching paisley boleros, toreador pants, and very high heels” and “A chipmunk dressed as a potato”, an otter fashion designer, a shrew ventriloquist, and other mostly-rodent-sized animals.

Hoeye has a fine eye for rodentine appearances:

“Fluster Varmint was a visionary. When he thought long tails were more elegant, showgirls grew longer tails. When he thought bushy tails were more provocative, they grew bushier tails. If Fluster thought hamsters made the funniest comedians, then suddenly everywhere hamsters were telling jokes and wearing peculiar hats.” (pg. 34)

When Hermux is calling on Linka, “he straightened his whiskers and fluffed out the fur in his ears.” (pg. 29)

Hermux’s third tale is a change of pace for him, being more of a Phantom of the Opera backstage mystery and courtroom drama than an Indiana Jones search for treasure in foreign jungles and deserts. Since it takes place in Pinchester, Hermux’s ladybug Terfle is able to emerge from her cage for the first time and accompany him in a faithful-dog role. No Time Like Show Time is clever old-fashioned detective comedy-suspense adventure that would not disappoint a fan of the 1930s Thin Man movies — with a furry cast.

– Fred Patten,


Mouse Mission, by Prudence Breitrose – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51Nw6dacHlL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Mouse Mission, by Prudence Breitrose. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue.
NYC, Disney•Hyperion, October 2015, hardcover $16.99 (266 pages), Kindle $9.99.

Mouse Mission is The Mousenet, Book 3; the conclusion of the trilogy that began with Mousenet and Mousemobile (both 2013). To repeat the events in the first two books, 10/11-year-old Megan Miller learns that the mice of the world are as intelligent as humans, but are too small and fragile to create a civilization. They’re isolated in small groups; and they can’t be heard by humans unless they scream all the time. The mice learn that Megan’s uncle, Fred Barnes, is an electronic tinkerer who has invented a miniature computer just for his own amusement, but which would be ideal for mice to communicate with each other throughout the world; and with humans.

In the first two books, Megan and Uncle Fred become part of the Humans Who Know about the Mouse Nation, and the mice figure out how the five humans can mass-produce the Thumbtop computers, supposedly as toy keychains but actually for the mice to use. Megan’s uncle and step-dad, Fred Barnes and Jake Fisher, create their home-run Planet Mouse factory in Cleveland, ostensibly to manufacture only a tiny number of miniature computer toys, but actually with a secret assembly line of seven hundred mice making Thumbtops for mice all around the world.

One of the Humans Who Know is Megan’s mother Susan Fisher, who is an environmental activist. Breitrose unfortunately allowed Mousemobile to become very preachy about the danger of Climate Change, which the five Humans Who Know and all the mice are very passionate about. The message of Mouse Mission, Saving the Rainforest, is fortunately integrated into the plot much better.

Susan Fisher’s current environmental campaign is saving the rainforest that covers the fictional island-nation of Marisco in the Indian Ocean (a pastiche of Madagascar).

“This was one of the last forests on that part of the planet that was still completely wild, and it had been kept that way by the government of Marisco until recently, when a group of generals seized power. A month ago, mice had found a document on the generals’ computers – a document that revealed their plan to sell the rights to the forest to Loggocorp, a huge international timber company.” (p. 16)

Read the rest of this entry »

Rat’s Reputation, by Michael H. Payne – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.


Cover by Louvelex

Rat’s Reputation, by Michael H. Payne. Illustrated by Louvelex.
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2015, trade paperback $19.95 (viii + 359 pages).

To pat myself on the back, when I edited the first anthology of anthropomorphic short fiction from pioneering furry fanzines of the late 1980s and 1990s (2003), the earliest story that I chose was Michael H. Payne’s “Rat’s Reputation” from FurVersion #16, May 1989. Rat’s Reputation the novel is Payne’s fixup and expansion of his “Around About Ottersgate” short fiction featuring Rat and his neighbors of the animal community of Ottersgate and environs. It’s his second novel in the “Around About Ottersgate” world, following The Blood Jaguar (Tor Books, December 1998; reprinted Sofawolf Press, June 2012).

“The rustling grew louder, seemed to come closer, and Alphonse [a gypsy squirrel] stopped as the ground started to shake.

An earthquake? He’d been through a couple when the caravan traveled out west, but here?

The shaking grew more violent with each passing second, and he was huddling down, glad he was out in the woods where nothing could really fall on him, when with a crash like a landslide, something tore out of the ground ahead, molten rock fountaining all fire-red and ash-black up over his head to smash into the trees, cracking and falling in a perfect circle around the pit of lava that yawned open, a sudden sulfurous stink plastering Alphonse’s face.

Then everything froze, Alphonse blinking to clear his eyes, a lumpy mass of darkness rising from the pit, its vast golden eyes swinging around to fix on Alphonse. The silence went on and on until a voice spoke, soft and rough as a step into sandy soil: ‘I reckon you know who I am, son.’

Alphonse could only nod.” (p. 7)

When the High Ones call you, you come. When the High Ones give you a duty, you do that duty. Alphonse’s duty is to find the baby rat on the streambank and raise him up. Except that the rat isn’t a baby; he’s four years old.

Read the rest of this entry »