by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara. Illustrated by the author.
London, Ontario, Common Deer Press, August 2017, hardcover, $31.99 (287 [+ 4] pages), Kindle $4.99.
Don’t be scared off by the price. There is also a trade paperback for $14.99. And most of you will get the Kindle edition, anyway.
The Great & the Small begins with a bustling marketplace scene:
“… in the weak December sun, the harbour city’s popular market was bustling with people looking for last minute presents. Middle-Gate Market was festive with its potted evergreen trees and strands of blinking coloured lights. Shiny red balls trembled on the boughs of the tinsel-dressed pinks as salt air gusted up the hill from the sea below and rattled the lights against the rafters where they were strung.
Watching over all of this, under the faux Gothic clock, stood Middle-Gate’s most famous tourist attraction: a brass statue modeled after the gargoyles of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral. The monster stood on guard, a five-foot winged beast that stood meekly by while tourists thronged around it, snapped selfies, and rubbed the creature’s flared nostrils for luck.” (p. 9)
Then dips beneath it:
“That was the side of the market the tourists saw and the locals loved. They had no idea of the other side, the one that lay below. A distinct world, with its own ways, its own rules: a colony of rats.
Tunnels wound underneath the hill, tooth-carved thoroughfares, veiled from the eyes of humans. There were tunnels high up and tunnels below that snaked deep into the hill’s belly.
The Uppers were dug alongside the city’s swanky cafés and eateries, and food was never far away. But lower down the hill, below the heart of the market, it was different. Tangles of narrow tunnels limped through broken pipes, leaking sewers, and sodden earth, connecting scores of foul smelling, crumbling burrows.
No rat lived in the Lowers by choice. Except one, that is.” (ibid.)