The Rat Queen (Hardcover)
For Annie’s tenth birthday, her papa gives her a pad of paper, some colored pencils, and the Klimas family secret. It’s called the nuodeema burna, or eater of sins. Every time Annie misbehaves, she has to write down her transgression and stick the paper into a hidey-hole in the floor of their house. But Annie’s inheritance has a dark side: with each paper fed to the burna, she feels less guilty about the mean things she says and does. As a plague of rats threatens her small suburban town and the mystery of her birthright grows, Annie—caught in a cycle of purging her misdeeds—begins to stop growing. It is only when she travels to her family’s home country of Litvania to learn more about the burna that Annie uncovers the magnitude of the truth. Gripping and emotionally complex, Pete Hautman’s inventive yarn for middle-grade readers draws on magical realism to explore coming of age and the path to moral responsibility.
—Booklist (starred review)
Remorse, honor, and forgiveness are just some of the themes in this creepy, symbolically rich saga. . . Complex and provocative.
Intricately plotted, atmospherically sinister novel. . . interweaves portentous Litvanian fairy tales with intriguing, white-cued modern-day characters.
There is a slippery, tricksy nature to this novel, evoking a fairy tale feel tinged with just a hint of horror—this is a world that can be elegant and dreamy while also being literally overrun with hordes of rats. Hautman uses pace effectively to keep the reader guessing.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Author Pete Hautman skillfully weaves the history and legends of Litvania (the not-quite-real country of Annie’s family) into this tangled tale of guilt, responsibility, growing up and...rats.
—The Virginian Pilot
Half magical, half in the real world, ‘The Rat Queen’ keeps the reader on edge because there’s a feeling that something scary is going to happen on the next page.
—The St. Paul Pioneer Press