The Dark Portal: Book One of The Deptford Mice

The Dark Portal: Book One of The Deptford Mice

By Author / Illustrator

Robin Jarvis



Age range(s)



Pushkin Children's Books




Paperback / softback




The spine-chilling children's fantasy classic, from the author of The Whitby Witches, featuring new illustrations.

The Deptford Mice live a cosy life in the skirting boards of an abandoned London house, with no humans or cats to disturb them. But something lurks in the dank sewers beneath the city - a mysterious, powerful being, worshipped by a horde of bloodthirsty rats who cower in its presence...  When a brave mouse ventures down into the sewers, he uncovers a terrifying plot to awaken an ancient evil. Soon his family and friends must summon all their courage to confront treacherous enemies and foul sorcery in a battle to save London and the world from eternal darkness.

'Wonderfully dark and magical. An absolute classic' Phil Hickes, author of The Haunting of Aveline Jones.



The Dark Portal (book one of The Deptford Mice series) may be a classic, but very many young readers will not have heard of it, let alone read it. Indeed, with its new illustrations both inside and on the cover, it could surely pass as a brand new title and is sure to ignite the same interest as one.

The drawings - by Jarvis himself - convey what is true of the original text (first published in 1989), namely that this is far from a twee animal story and more akin to a 'chiller', set in the sort of world where few dare to set foot (or paw).

Audrey Brown (recent recipient of her mousebrass and an enchanted one at that) with Arthur, Twit, Oswald and Piccadilly, are among the exceptions, but they might well be scared of the sewers, for there's something far more sinister, far more fearful, than even a horde of vicious rats down there. Jupiter for a start.

Come the end of the book, most fans of fantasy/magical/scary tales, are going to be requesting books 2 and 3 in the series, especially if they read the tantalising first few pages of The Crystal Prison and begin to wonder what is next in store for Audrey and her brave friends. I certainly did.

This first in the trilogy would make a good Y3/4 class read and any number of its descriptive passages could be used in English lessons focusing on, say, character or setting, or suspense. The author's website ( ) carries further ideas and information, including how to make your own paper one-eyed Jake.

320 pages / Reviewed by Jane Rew, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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