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(The Borrible Trilogy #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  523 ratings  ·  47 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
Published (first published January 1st 1976)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  523 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Kieran Larwood
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Luke Bursack
lol so old it didn't have a bar code and there probly not sold any more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
A fast-paced action fantasy for adolescents/YA in which the author enjoyed doing a takeoff of the Wombles...except his Rumbles are unpleasant and materialistic instead of being gentle off-the-grid recycling hippies. They run afoul of the Borribles, Dickensian street kids who inhabit abandoned buildings and scavenge (ie steal) a living off the markets--and never grow up. Any reader too young to remember the Wombles will be a bit lost, and a knowledge of Oliver Twist would be of help.

It held my at
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read, borrowed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew of 'the Borribles' thanks to China Miéville,who aknowledges de Larrabieti as one of the inspirations for his own work.
After having read the first of the three novels of the trilogy I can say that I really enjoyed most of it but there was a very important flaw that really spoilt the pleasure of exploring this other literary alternative London. (view spoiler)
Adam Windsor
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I first read "The Borribles" when I was 11, and fell in love with the anarchic tale of scruffy street kids launching a commando-style assassination strike on a race of subterranean rat-creatures. I'm still a fan as an adult, even if I do now tend to notice some of the probability-stretching conveniences of the plot, and the rather inconsistent characterisation of the antagonists (though at least, as an adult, I realise who they are a pastiche of).

Don't get caught!
J.P. Wright
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this after 30 years, having dug it out for my daughter. Enjoyed it more than ever. For some reason I did not make the connection between Rumbles and Wombles as a child (Wombles were just a little before my time) - getting the joke now just makes it more fun. There should be more murderous effin' street urchins in modern kid's books, and less fairy princess unicorns.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s a cracking good read, as the kids never said, and is remarkably grim and bloody for a story aimed at the schoolboy set. And the ending is quite cynical. No wonder the kids back in the day liked it.
Ivan Kosir
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gotta steal a quote from elsewhere because it described this book perfectly: 'It was grunge before there was Grunge'. Nuff said. Gritty, witty and charming to the core.
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an ending; loss after loss. It was most definitely not a Disney ending - which in some ways is more satisfying.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.


It is time to jump in the way back machine and take a look at another 'oldie but goodie' book. This time I am featuring The Borribles, which is the first book in The Borrible Trilogy. The Borrible Trilogy is a gritty children's/YA urban fa
I loved China Mi�ville'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 f ...more
Guilherme Solari
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What if Peter Pan's Lost Boys were street urchins?

The Borribles could be described as an urban version of Peter Pan's Lost Boys. Borribles look like children, and can only be differentiated by their pointy years. All Borribles were children one day, but they turned into these curious creatures after running away to live on the streets of the big cities. If they are not captured, Borribles never age and live forever. They are barred by social taboos from having money, so they steal everything the
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
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2010 rated it 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.
Adam Wolf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. :)
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!
Apr 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: before-the-list, 2016
Loved these books when I was 10 or so. Not quite as enthralling as I remember, but that's only to be expected. My favourite was "The Borribles Go For Broke", which I read first, so this always had the feel of a prequel at the time. I'll be reading it next.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Michael de Larrabeiti was an English novelist and travel writer. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy, which has been cited as an influence by writers in the New Weird movement.

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)
“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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