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The Twyning

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  49 reviews
This is the story of Efren, a young ratling born into the Court of Tasting, in the rat Kingdom below the streets; and Dogboy, a 13 year-old boy abandoned and living wild.

The Kingdom is in turmoil after the death of the old king, murdered by a human scientist, Dr Henry Ross-Gibbon. Ross-Gibbon is obsessed by the annihilation of all rats, and uses Dogboy to help him catch hi
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Head of Zeus (first published December 20th 2012)
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3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  237 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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K.J. Charles
Feb 09, 2014 added it
Shelves: dnf, fantasy
Another one bites the dust. Choppy transitions, too much world building, no emotional impact for me. Plus, if your hero is a rat, I want rat details, not about how they can talk by magic, but the physicality of what they eat and smell and feel, a sense of actual ratness, as done (in a very different style, obviously) in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. These could have been any animals or in fact people. Binned out at 17%.
Hannah  The Dyslexic Reader
One of the best books I have read this year. Mind opening and entraining. Fun and gritty. Sad and joyous. Character and plot. Flow and suspense. What more could you want from a rat centred Victorian era novel?
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Twyning is a middle-grade historical fiction/fantasy novel where two children living in the dump befriend two rats during the human's War Against Rats.

Peter finds work catching rats for two very different characters. One, a doctor who is convinced that all of the diseases that rats carry will be the cause of our ultimate downfall; the other a rat catcher for pit fights who believes the creatures harmless. Peter lives with Caz, a young girl who ran away from a dance school that she was sold
I've never read a book about a rat before, much less one told from the perspective of a rat. I had no clue what it was about so had zero expectations going into it, but I actually really enjoyed this one in the end. I found the alternating perspectives between rat and human quite fascinating.

Top tip: Before reading, check out the glossary at the back of the book. It's not huge but it does explain what some of the rat lingo means and will make for a more enjoyable and understandable experience.

Stacy Mozer
The Twyning is a dark middle grade book about a fight between the world of rats and the world of humans. It's told from both points of view. The book explores issues of leadership and bravery and would be enjoyed by an older middle grader.
Hells bells! That was a lot more gore than I was expecting!

I thought this book was ok, I really liked the idea of the rat kingdom and I think I would have preferred if the whole book was just Efran's point of view. I think Dogboy's chapters could get a little boring, especially after the second half. The first half was like Game of Thrones for rats! I was surprised it's considered a Middle Grade book!

I thought the characters were a little too bland for me, not very memorable or endearing, I ca
c a t h e y
The Twyning is a bit of a weird book with a weird premise. Definitely gritty in places, but at a "middle school" level. The gore felt token - enough to say it's a gritty book, but not enough to be truly horrifying.

As to the plot itself: aside from the rat idea, there were no surprises and I was tempted to give up several times.
Hayley Briston
I found this book very hard going. It is well written in the respect that you invest in the characters but it's hard to let it draw you in. In places I was tempted to give up reading but I didn't and persevered till the end.
Elli Wright
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish it...
Margaret Haigh
A very different book, with both a rat and a human narrator. Difficult to classify it was definitely a good read.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued, I wasn't intrigued ....
ended up giving up a third of the way through
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Dogboy lives in the dump with his best friend Caz. He earns pennies to feed them both by assisting the rat-catcher Bill Grubstaff. When he is offered work by a local scientist, he is soon drawn into a plot to declare war on rats. Below ground the rats are mourning the loss of their king and preparing to crown his successor. Young taster Efren, goes against the rules of the kingdom and follows his old king above ground, only to witness his capture and resulting torture. By the very man now employ ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a bit to get into, without it being confusing, since I can't say I'm used to books half from a rats point of view. I ended up really quite enjoying it.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Generally speaking, I am not one for fantasy literature. I prefer books that transform this world over books that build new worlds. Terrence Blacker’s The Twyning does both with great success.

The Twyning is a young adult novel, but most definitely one of those with appeal beyond this age group. The novel is set in the late 1800s. Peter and Caz, the main human characters are in their early teens, living in a rubbish tip in a hollow Peter’s dug into one of the mounds of trash. Peter picks up odd j
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When most of us think about rats, it’s usually along the same lines as we think of mosquitoes or fleas, as plague carrying pests with no value, whose extermination would be beneficial to us all. Author Terence Blacker attempts in his novel, The Twyning to do for rats what Richard Adams’ book Watership Down did for rabbits.

Set in Victorian London, two young orphans ‘Dogboy’ and Caz live in a rubbish dump. Dogboy supports them by hunting rats both for sport and science. Beneathe their feet, in the
Lucas Morales
The Twyning, by Terence Blacker, is a book I’m not sure I like or not. It is about a boy named Dogboy who catches rats for a living. Every other chapter is about him and the others are about a rat kingdom. The rat part is narrated by Efren, a rat who is on the outside but wants to help. The main problem is that in order to get more votes, a member of Parliament creates a fantasy that rats are bad and if he is reelected, he will get rid of them.
The writing style of the author at least in this bo
I received an ARC of this novel courtesy of ArmchairBEA 2014 and the publishers. This review in its entirety was originally posted at

The author created a very peculiar world with The Twyning, a twist on your good ol’ exterminator vs the rat population. The world he created in this novel reminded me of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere with the overall gloomy atmosphere, the mysterious atmosphere and the underg
Steph Bennion
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I read this really quickly, which is a bad sign; I like to savour good reads. I'm left wondering whether this is supposed to be a children's book (the main human protagnists are children, the plot is quite basic and the writing fairly straightforward), but there's a lot of really horrible stuff in here about the brutal killing of rats that I can't imagine many children taking pleasure from. (If they did, I would book a trip to the psychiatrist.) The blurb tells you everything you need to know ab ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nope
I tried so hard to read this book, because any book about rats is worth a try. And it's because The Twyning is about rats that I gave it more of a chance than I do any other book. It's slow to start out, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, except enough things happen that it shouldn't read so slow. The prose I think is meant to be lyrical and old-fashioned, but ends up being slightly pretentious.

I think what disappointed me the most about this book is the author's imagining of what a rat
Suzanne Hirst
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantasy story about the world of rats and the humans who want to kill them. I don't usually read fantasy novels but enjoyed this therefore a 4 star from me.
American Mensa
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
If you like fantasy, this book is for you.

The book The Twyning by Terence Blacker is about a young rat named Efron and his journey to save the rat king. Dogboy, a young boy who can talk to animals, finds Efron and hears his plight. Dogboy is conflicted, he doesn't know if he wants to help the humans in their quest to cure cancer or save the rat king with Efron.

I found this book difficult to follow because it has an extremely (and unnecessarily) complex plot and there were too many uncommon nam
Kristy West
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Twyning is a book about the rats war with humans.

Firstly, I have to say that I can NOT abide cruelty to animals. I know this a book about war, but it really doesn’t have to include half the “sport” stuff that it does, for as long as intricately detailed it is. This really didn’t settle well with me, which is a real shame, as the actual context of the book and the interactions between the rat community is inventive and highly intriguing.

I didn’t really understand the concept (or the reason)
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-my-kindle
I wasn't sure what to expect of this book when I started it with Rats as the main characters I was hoping it wouldn't be too Duncton Wood and head of down some cultish religious route. Fortunately this was never the case. The main characters be they Rat or Human all just seem to work, the story telling is at a good pace and its well written. Without giving any spoilers the war between humans and rats told from mainly the rats point of view is a nice concept and it certainly was a good story its ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Set sometime in the past in London, an orphan boy known as Dogboy because he is good with dogs and a homeless girl named Caz become entwined in a politically driven war against the rats. Efren is the main rat character along with Malaika, his female rat friend/love interest. Efren lives in the rat kingdom in the sewers where the rats communicate by "revealing" their thoughts to one another mind to mind. Caz is able to hear the rats "revealing" and so she can communicate with them. Dogboy has two ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This will definitely be one of my top ten books for the year. Don't be put off by the fact its about rats, or that one of the characters telling the story is a rat. It's half and half, told by a boy on the streets and a rat named Efran. Both are trying to survive. Their stories weave together is a magical way. The worlds above and below are entwined. There is darkness and violence - betrayal and deception, hope and love, in both humans and rats. Absolutely worth it.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, fantasy
You can find my full review of The Twyning on my book blog.

In summary: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's original, quirky, and heartfelt. It's fast-paced and a page-turner. I would highly recommend it to everyone (except those with a strong phobia of rats).
Aug 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, fantasy, ya
I received this as an ARC through Goodreads and enjoyed this book. The author did a great job getting the reader to know and become invested in the characters, especially the rat characters. I did find this story a bit choppy at points and it dragged in others, but over all I think the quality of the characters allowed this to be overlooked. Would definitely recommend this story for middle school aged readers.
Debby Kean
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, brilliant
Blacker attempted to do for rats, what was done for rabbits in Watership Down - and although I didn't believe anyone could do it - he did!
The book follows the adventures of a teenage rat (Efren) during a time of absolute chaos for The Kingdom, and a teenage abandoned boy, Peter Simeon and an abandoned 11 year old girl, Caz - in Edwardian times. It's well worth reading!
Janet Foxley
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This tale of the relationship between rats and humans, from the perspective of both, had me captivated from the beginning. My only reservations were that the pit fight scene went on for too long, and that the Twyning didn't play as much of a role as its apparent importance in rat culture, and use as the title, lead you to expect. Not for young children or the squeamish.
L. E. Storm
A good book, from a perspective that's unconventional and interesting.

I wasn't left all that overwhelmed by it though, and was slightly irritated by the lack of concern put into giving a sense of the time period it is supposedly set in (if I hadn't read the blurb I would have no clue what era it was).

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Terence Blacker wanted to be a jockey when he grew and up. In fact, he could ride before he could walk, and his childhood hero was the great steeplechaser Mill House (a horse). He lives in Norfolk, England.
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