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The Borribles (The Borrible Trilogy #1)
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The Borribles (The Borrible Trilogy #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  365 ratings  ·  33 reviews
What is a Borrible? Borribles are runaways who dwell in the shadows of London. Apart from their pointed ears, they look just like ordinary children. They live by their wits and a few Borrible laws-the chief one being, Don't Get Caught! The Borribles are outcasts-but they wouldn't have it any other way....
One night, the Borribles of Battersea discover a Rumble-one of the gi
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 10th 2005 by Tor Teen (first published January 1st 1976)
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Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleThe Borribles by Michael De LarrabeitiAlbion Imperilled by Ruth  ThomasSonora, and the Scroll of Alexandria by Travis Hall
Favourite YA Fantasies and SF
3rd out of 42 books — 13 voters
Neverwhere by Neil GaimanJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeMidnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch1984 by George OrwellMary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Fantasy/SF Atlas--London
31st out of 161 books — 39 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mar 24, 2009 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jess, Marlee,, maybe Beth?
Recommended to Megan by: The book Inkheart
Shelves: own
I'm giving this a 5 because it's so unlike any other kid/YA book I've read before. The Borribles are a cross between the "sinners" in Pinnochio and Peter Pan. They are runaways who cheat, lie, and steal, but they will never turn into adults unless they are captured by an adult and their ears are clipped. The book is pretty violent, with some grisly death scenes that made me wince a little. However, the Borribles do have a code that they live by and are loyal to the death to their friends. Anyway ...more
Kieran Larwood
I first read this book when I was twelve, and was instantly captivated. I even went through a phase of wanting to run away and become a Borrible (in fact, I still do now). I recently read it again, many years later, and found all of the magic was still there. This is the perfect boys' book- fast paced, exciting, violent and just rude enough for you to think 'Mum will kill me if she finds me reading this'. Every twelve year old should have a copy to treasure.
As someone else mentioned in their review, this is exactly the kind of book I used to think "Mum would kill me if she caught me reading this!"

And it's exactly the kind of book I'd love my kids to read (which is actually what made me think of it - I'm digging up books to recommend to them.)

I remember it as a violent modern urban take on the Lost Boys (the originals, not the 80's vampires), and it honestly scared the heck out of me as a kid, but again, like someone else said, I spent half my teena
Bruce Mohler
This is one of the more unique (and I mean that in the *best* possible way) fantasy books I've read. The Borribles are child-sized and live by their thieving and cunning in and around London. Their enemy, the Rumbles, have made an incursion into the Battersea area initiating a grand adventure. It is a well told story with a large number of characters but its always clear who is doing/saying what. It is the first in a YA trilogy which explains why all questions in this book weren't answered right ...more
Frl Drosselmeyer
Borribles? Great idea. Loved 'em, would've wanted to be one, would've been a little frightened of being one. And great use of geography -- this is 'urban' fantasy Peter Pan-style, as drawn from the kids hanging around Tottenham High Street, as soaked in London geography, as it is a punky, proletariat reworking of Edith Nesbit or Narnia.

I'm torn, because I loved the premise, I loved the ideas. Where it falls down -- and perhaps I wouldn't have noticed this as a child -- is the execution. It's all
C Hellisen
This was awesome.

It was children's fantasy without the cheese, set in a wonderfully dark and grimy London of the late 70s. The Borribles are...kinda like the Lost Boys, but better. And their mortal enemies are kinda like the Wombles of Wimbledom Common, but far far worse.

Seriously, I loved every second of this, and I need to read the next book because NOOOOOO that can't be how it ended.

I read this book back in the mid-'80s and remember enjoying very much. I wanted to read again as I've ordered the third book in this series and wanted to refresh my memories. Basically an adventure where a group of Borribles (edgier Borrowers) are tasked to take a trip into Rumble (furry ratlike creatures) territory to cause much havoc and prevent a Rumble invasion into Borrible territory. The story is set in London and an adventure like this will grant the tasked Borribles a name. The eight wil ...more
Oct 25, 2012 Janet added it
Shelves: fiction, sff, ya, 2010
I loved China Miville's 'The City and the City', which lead me to read about him on Wikipedia. There I learned that he loved 'The Borribles', and despised the sentimental bucolic world as venerated by Tolkien. See: So the universe was going in for some fun coincidences when I picked up a copy of this book just as the library reservation process delivered up Elizabeth Goudge's 'The Little White Horse'. I read them back to back. I can't say that either is fl ...more
Dale Pearl
Intro: Borribles are generally skinny and have pointed ears which give them a slightly satanic appearance. They are pretty tough-looking and always scruffy, with their arises hanging out of their trousers. Apart from that they look just like normal children

Summary: The Borribles of Battlesea discover a Rumble tunneling inside of Battersea. Now, for clarification a Rumble is really just another type of Borrible but with two distinct differences: 1) They are from Rumbleton and 2) they prefer to li
I hated this book. Don't ask me why because I don't know. The plot was murky. The ending leaves more questions than answers as if the author is trying to force you to read the next book (I won't be) The Borribles are suppose to be human yet they exhibit no human nevermind childlike characteristics. We are never given a reason as to what makes there adversaries so evil or the nature of the Rumbles's origins. The author takes the reader on too many side quests with a Borrible catcher named Dewdrop ...more
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. Quite frankly, I was pulled into the strange world of the Borribles quite quickly and, once acclimated, the fine writing encompassed me. This is a distractingly good book.

The Borribles are creatures about the size of grade school child and live on, around and in the midst of the city of London. They are somewhat like the Borrowers in that they live off of what they can steal and they hide their existence from the sight of us normal
This is the first of my favourite books ever! The adventure and story that is told in this series is one I keep coming back to over and over. I loved these books as a kid and still love them now.
Nicholas Whyte

The first book, The Borribles, is a direct attack on Elisabeth Beresford's Womble novels. Fighting off incursion by the evil rat-like Rumbles, a crack team of Borribles sets off to assassinate the Rumble leadership, Vulgarian, Napoleon Boot, Chalotte, Sydney, Bingo, Stonks, Torreycanyon, and Orococco. On the way they encounter the evil Dewdrop and his son, who are a direct parody of Steptoe and Son. I remember when first reading the book being rather stunn
A Tolkien-esque story about Borribles, elfin street urchins who only grow up if they are caught by adults. Another group of creatures begins to invade Battersea Park, the London neighborhood where the Borribles live, and a group of them go on a mission across the city to combat their foes. There is a surprising amount of action and violence, all of which is shared with a fanciful sense of humor so that it never feels crass. There is a fun ensemble cast which gets confusing in a couple of places ...more
Mar 11, 2015 James added it
i want to read plss
What could be more out-there and cool thank a group of 1970's British street-punk kids similar to runaway elves? Not much, especially when Micheal De Larrabeiti does it. The Borrible stories are full of action, great characters, and strange sayings I have never heard anywhere else. As a warning, there is some language, plenty of violence, and some sewers, so this is a 14+ sort of trilogy- unless parental decisions are a factor. However, it's still a good story. I rather liked it. :)
It's a creative and ultra-violent fantasy novel. You could probably compare it fairly accurately to the first half of Ender's Shadow, but with way more violence and giant rats.

Probably 30-40% near the end is actually just one big battle, but the violence is creative and entertaining.

If you enjoy fantasy violence and unique settings, you'll probably like this one.
Vicious but gripping
Lauren Stoolfire
I love Larrabeiti's voice and tone in The Borribles. I was so pleased that it wasn't as childish as it could have been (what I was half expecting) but was instead very dark and gritty. There's plenty of action, adventure, triumph, and tragedy to draw in a wide variety of readers. I'm looking forward to reading the second and third books in the series. What a pleasant surprise!
A fun, yet violent romp. Street urchins, who are a mix of Peter Pan's lost boys and the pick pockets from Oliver Twist, plan revenge on the nasty Rumbles. Plodding around London with their trust catapults they fight to perserve their way of life and to earn their names.
Where has this book been my whole life? I LOVED the Borribles, and to be honest with you I'm not sure why.

I don't know if it's the adventure, the unique world, or strange characters that just... kept me reading, but I loved it.

I read this book many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a one of those books that I had a hard time putting down. The story was a lot of fun to get lost in, I'm going to have find this one again and take another read.
This was one of the last books I read from the children's section of the library. It was also one of the first books that made me cry. It stood up fairly well when I re-read it as an adult.
Jun 13, 2008 Bax rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
An excellent series for young adults, and eminently readable for adults.

As usual with series, the first volume is the strongest, but the falloff is less steep here than in many others.
Craig Herbertson
Excellent book for those who would wish to indoctrinate their children into socialism, as opposed to indoctrinating them into something else. It's a fun read.
Kim Dallaire
Crazy violent but awesome, I was definitely too young when I read this and still enjoyed it immensely. Just don't et your ears snipped!
Joe Lancaster
Strange little book about street kids that turn into little elf-like beings and fight giant rats that talk.
I just thought it was really weak. The idea wasn't so bad but the story didn't carry the idea.
Luke Jordan
A wonderful surprise of a book. I only wish it were made into a movie.
I just couldn't really get into it.
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Other Books in the Series

The Borrible Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Borribles Go For Broke (The Borrible Trilogy #2)
  • Across the Dark Metropolis (The Borrible Trilogy #3)
The Borrible Trilogy (PB) The Borribles Go For Broke (The Borrible Trilogy #2) Across the Dark Metropolis (The Borrible Trilogy #3) The Provençal Tales Journal of a Sad Hermaphrodite

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“Normal kids are turned into Borribles very slowly, almost without being aware of it; but one day they wake up and there it is. It doesn't matter where they come from as long as they have what is called a “bad start.” A child disappears from a school and the word goes round that he was “unmanageable”; the chances are he is off managing by himself. Sometimes it's given out that a kid down the street has been “put into care” because whenever he got home from school the house was empty; no doubt he's been Borribled and is caring for himself someplace. One day a shout might be heard in a supermarket and a kid with the goods on him is hoisted out by a store-detective. If that kid gets away he'll become a Borrible and make sure he isn't caught again. Being caught is the end for a Borrible.

So Borribles are outcasts but unlike most outcasts they enjoy themselves and wouldn't be anything else. They delight in feeling independent and free and it is this feeling that is most important to them. Consequently they have no real leaders, though someone may pop into prominence from time to time, perhaps because he has had a good idea and wants to carry it through. They manage without authority and they get on well enough together, though like everybody, they quarrel.”
“It's impossible to lose that which does not belong to you.” 0 likes
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