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The Dark Portal

(The Deptford Mice #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,249 ratings  ·  117 reviews
In the British tradition of Redwall comes this first novel of a trilogy that is sure to capture fans both young and old. In the sewers of Deptford, there lurks a dark presence that fills the tunnels with fear. The rats worship it in the blackness and name it "Jupiter, Lord of All." Into this twilight realm wanders a small and frightened mouse-the unwitting trigger of a cha ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Chronicle Books (first published 1989)
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Patricia Robinson I first read it when I was 11, so I would say about that age and above. Note that there are some particularly frightening and violent scenes throughou…moreI first read it when I was 11, so I would say about that age and above. Note that there are some particularly frightening and violent scenes throughout this series (there are characters who get peeled - that is, skinned alive - and at one point during a fight a rat snaps another rat's head off, causing blood to spill everywhere).(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  2,249 ratings  ·  117 reviews

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Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I had to DNF this one. It's boring, and the plot is trite, and the pacing is weird. I didn't care about any of the characters, so after I stuck with it through 100 pages, I called it quits.

The writing is really condescending, and points out the obvious over and over. In the beginning, the setting is described as a society of mice who are afraid of the sewers below their community because the evil rats live in the sewers and they eat any poor mice who go wandering down there.
Then a mouse named
I brought this book, when I was a kid from either Blackbush or Brooklands market (both now long gone). I tried so many times to read it. I would get a couple of chapters in, lose interest and then come back to it a year or so later. I think I once read it all the way through but the only thing I can remember from the book is that there were evil rats in the sewer.

Reading this as an adult was easier and I didn't lose interest, although the story is not that exciting and is fairly simplistic.

Louise / Daisy May Johnson
I'm on a bit of a Robin Jarvis kick at the moment, and it was when I reread 'The Dark Portal' (the first in the Deptford Mice series) that I came to realise something.

I think that Jarvis taught me the concept of story, in a way. I think he taught me the concept of telling a single story within a greater whole. I am a fan of him, avowedly so, and love his work from the Whitby series to the Deptford books; from Aufwader to Green Mouse and everything in between.

His books are big books. They are un
Matthew Hodge
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was one of my all-time favourite books as a kid and I've had a blast re-reading it to my daughter. It tells the tale of a group of anthropomorphic mice living in an empty house in Deptford. (The fact that it's such a particular suburb - not just a random house in London somewhere - is one of the things I've always liked about this book.)

The mice live a relatively happy life, except for the fact that down in the cellar is the Grill - an old piece of ironwork that leads into the sewers. And i
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
An interesting, unique, and original book.
James Benham
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, animals, horror
Don't let the fact that this story is about a community of mice trick you into thinking this is a sunny, lovely adventure. It is dark, gritty and gruesome (at least one character meets their grisly end being skinned). This means it may not be suitable for a lot of children, however, it is not so bad that I wouldn't recommend it to some proficient, well-read upper KS2 children. The tension is palpable throughout with Jarvis doing an excellent job of keeping you on edge and fearing for the young m ...more
Hannah Polley

Ever since there were mice in my uni house, I have been absolutely terrified of them and also rats by extension. So I felt very uncomfortable reading this book.

This book tells the story of mice that live in an abandoned house but they keep being lured into the sewer where the evil rats are. However, the rats are controlled by a magical dark force, which actually turns out to be a cat.

This book has an odd and surprising mix of humour and gruesomeness but it just wasn't really for me.

It ends on a
Victoria Clifford
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: No humans are present in the telling of this story.
Jupiter lives in the sewers and is lord over the rats. When a mouse from the Skirtings loses her mouse brass while looking for her missing father in the sewer she consults Madame Akkikuyu, a fortune teller, and Audrey ends up on an adventure in the sewers, herself. Now join the forces of a city mouse, country mouse, a seafaring mouse and the bats to try to find her. And what of Jupiter? May be too intense for real young children but
Alastair Heffernan
This is a fun read that pulled me through all the way to the end. It didn’t score higher principally because the lore of the book is very underdeveloped. In particular, there are several magical moments that seem more convenient than grounded in the logic of the book. Indeed, I never truly felt like the world made sense - which is a shame because I love the overall concept and feel this could have been a great children’s book if the ideas here were handled in a more cohesive and consistent way.

Listening to the audiobook, gave up on part 5 out of 8. I just can't do it any more.

I don't care. I don't care about any of the characters. The story is not engaging me at all.

Maybe if I was a preteen reading this it would be different, but as an adult I just can't get into it.
Much preferred the Redwall books.

Such a shame, it had potential.
Emma Lauren
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis was the first installment of the Deptford Mice Trilogy was the story of a village of mice trying to live through the temptation and danger of the sewers where the deadly rats live. That... that was where the interest ended. The book was dull, changed speaking characters all too often with no warning, and had confusing "plot twists." I will not be reading any more of this series, unless I am in the mood to be bored to sleep with odd mice trials and tribulations.
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Dark Portal is an enjoyable mixture of cutesy mice, bloody death, and black magic. All in all, a unique mixture that combines to give this book a certain deliciously dark character.

The horror in this book is a little stronger and far more grisly than I expected: perhaps if I'd chosen the edition with the realistic rat's face, rather than the cutesy-poo anthropomorphic mice on the cover, then I would have been better prepared. What other book about talking animals would include demonaic rat g
Pickle Farmer
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: re-read
I forgot how dark these books are!! "The Crystal Prison" remains my favorite. During this reread I got annoyed at how dumb the mice were, running around the sewers. I guess the point was that the sewers had this "dark magical" pull on them that made them make bad decisions. But yeah, all the parts about the rats skinning mice and summoning dark gods are still deliciously horrifying. And I forgot how much I like Madame Akkikuyu (the Moroccan rat wannabe prophet) and the oracular bats as character ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was ok

I did not enjoy it.

Library copy
Jemima Pett
In 1989 there probably wasn't as much anti-anthropomorphism as there was a decade later.  This book seems to have gone in and out of fashion, but still came through ranked as a good spooky tale for children.

I'm not so sure of that.  It starts well, with a scary event happening to Arthur Brown, a respectable mouse drawn into the sewers below Deptford for reasons I've forgotten.  He fails to return and most of his family give him up as lost. Nobody should venture beyond The Grille into the sewers.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
(view spoiler) ...more
Cuyler schaub
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Honestly I loved the book. It fit right into my favorite genre and did it well in my opinion. I found the perspective entertaining and it was an easy quick read. Only issue I had was the way some of the characters talked and had to be written, there grammar (obviously not expecting rodents to be well versed) was so bad coming from the rats sometimes, I wanted to skip the paragraph until they stopped speaking because reading it was not enjoyable. All in all enjoyed it and will be reading the next ...more
I loved this series as a kid, and re-reading it as an adult is a joy. I'm only sad that this Kindle edition doesn't include the artwork that was in the paperback :(

Classic tale of innocence taking up the "sword" against evil. Yes, it's fairly simplistic compared to something more adult like The Wheel of Time, but for a YA novel, it's well written and gripping.

I just wish they'd publish The Deptford Histories for Kindle to round out the series for me!
Miles Nelson
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this when I was young, and it was one of the books that formed a lifelong adoration for animal stories.

Unfortunately, it also scared me shitless. As much as I loved it, this book is not really for young children. It can get dark, miserable, eerie, and creepy, with a theme of death present throughout. It's been so long since I read this that I'm not gonna leave a full, but it had such a massive impact on my teen years that I felt I had to say something.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow, my oldest nephew let me borrow this book a long time ago. I never had or took the chance to read it, but then he suggested we read it out loud together since he was rereading his older books. I would not suggest this book to younger audiences since there is a lot or really scary nightmare inducing stuff for the young, but this book was incredible in plot and delivery.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was pretty close to being a perfect read in the traditions of Watership Down or the Redwall series. Just the right amount of violence to make it chilling but with the addition of honor and loyalty to bring out the cheers for the heroine and heroes. The character development was a little uneven in places but I did not see it as a major distraction. Looking for the next in the series!
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the audiobook version of this book. The narrator does a great job with the voices. I would recommend this book to older middle grade readers (maybe 10 and up) due to the grim/darkness in parts of the story. The print version of the book also contains some artwork by the author that I really enjoyed. I plan on continuing this series in the near future.
Jess Pagan
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant Adventure!

I'm a huge fan of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood and bought this series based on that. This wonderful adventure is full of loveable characters, hated enemies and a sinister evil leader. I got swept in the world of mice and loved every minute of it! Now on with the second book!
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
3.5 stars

Oh sweet Jesus Christ... This book is macabre plus plus. Jeebus. I'm quite sure this is the only YA book that I've consistently have muttered, "oh, what the fuck!".

(view spoiler)
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
I love talking animal stories. This one, about a bunch of mice that fight against a bunch of bad guy rats, should have been a perfect for for me. However, all the characters had very strong accents and they were all written out. I do not enjoy that. DNF
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
it's jesus, except green and a mouse
more seriously, this was a huge deal to me as a kid. I don't remember much kid's horror out there but this is a good one! the illustrations are still creepy, and the visceral descriptions of some scary scenes really works well. I cried at two different points!
Raul R
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was okay. It was long and too easy to read. It wasn't a bad book, but it could've been better. It's not a scary book. It's more of a neutral story. The story was kind of hard to follow because of how many characters there were and it's third-person omniscient point of view.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book, but right from the start I was disinterested. I kept reading to see if it got any better, but I quit more than halfway through. It just didn't catch my interest.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not my cup of tea. Never got really "into" it
Kieran Banister
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A childhood favourite and the pinnacle of the Redwall diegesis.
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Robin Jarvis (born May 8, 1963) is a British children's novelist, who writes fantasy novels, often about anthropomorphic rodents and small mammals – especially mice – and Tudor times. A lot of his works are based in London, in and around Deptford and Greenwich where he used to live, or in Whitby.

His first novel – The Dark Portal, featuring the popular Deptford Mice – was the runner up for the Smar

Other books in the series

The Deptford Mice (3 books)
  • The Crystal Prison (The Deptford Mice, #2)
  • The Final Reckoning (The Deptford Mice, #3)

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