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River Rats    by Caroline Stevermer order for
River Rats
by Caroline Stevermer
Order:  USA  Can
Magic Carpet, 1996 (1992)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

The author's delightful A College of Magics impressed me so much that I looked for other books by her and found this - written for younger readers of 12 and up - and up and up and up to this octogenarian, who thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is told by Tomcat, one of six orphans who have survived the Flash and found a post-apocalyptic home and occupation on an old riverboat on the Mississipi. The orphans deliver mail and attract audiences of other survivors (in the few remaining towns) to their rock and roll concerts. The action begins when they rescue a strange old man hunted by ruffians (the Lesters) and find that they are now being hunted too.

The old man knows a secret, the location of the Pharaoh's hoard, and the Lesters are determined to find it. They want to get hold of the weapons stored there among many other treasures. The River Rats are forced to search for it too, through one of the old, abandoned cities. The city is inhabited only by the wild boys, who are immune to the deadly disease which depopulated it. The characters of Tomcat and the other River Rats are very well drawn, and their adventures extraordinary, exciting, and plausible. Ms. Stevermer has an impressive knack for providing just the right amount of descriptive explanation, and leaving just the right amount to our individual imaginations. Highly recommended.

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