“RAT” by Priscilla B Shuler has won the BREW Readers’ Choice Award for February 2022 and Coming of Age Novel 2021/2022.
A scrawny orphan was trying to survive the streets of London in the early 1800s when luck puts him in the way of Miss Abigail. He receives his first job and his first name: Rat. His quick wit and flawless work ethics earn him the esteem of the owners of The Cross and Fly, who, when they consider him old enough, get him a job in a ship heading for the Americas. His outstanding loyalty and bravery earn him the rank of First Mate and a more dignified name: Ryan Alexander Trenton. But when his captain gets conned, and Ryan is kidnapped, his life takes a turn towards an even bigger adventure. Ryan will continue his endless wandering and adventures, becoming, among other things, the chief of a family of a Miwok tribe. But when and where will he feel his destiny is finally fulfilled? When he was a child, someone told him he was sure to become somebody. Will the prophecy come true? “RAT” by Priscilla B. Shuler is a historical fiction adventure that follows Ryan across different places and quests, in his joys and his trials, while he looks for the ultimate consummation of his destiny.
There’s much to praise in this novel. But my favorite asset, by far, is the character development. Ryan is incredibly clever and skilled while remaining realistic and having flaws. And I think the lesson of this book is incredibly valuable: opportunities come once in a lifetime and are not to be wasted. The balance that the author created between sheer luck, Ryan’s skills, and his decisiveness in grabbing opportunities makes a fascinating read in what otherwise could’ve been an unrealistic tale.
The book is full of tiny nuggets of wisdom that make it not only an entertaining read but also an enlightening one. For example, the quote that I used to open this review or the following piece of advice: “what other people think or don’t think, ought never affect what you know about your own self. Never let another human being define who or what you are.”
Though the story heavily favors adventure, there’s a little of everything to appeal to a vast audience: well-researched historical facts, fascinating cultural data, a little romance, some mystic elements, and even a sliver of humor here and there. This makes for a well-rounded novel that’s not only an endless sequence of action scenes, as most adventure novels are. The author’s talent for description makes for memorable characters and places. I could not only picture the DuBois mansion in my mind but also feel its atmosphere, for example. However, it’s commendable that the author never falls into verbose, purple prose, and the dialogues are authentic and congruent, perfectly according to the different characters.
Because of its original plot, amazing character development, memorable characters, and flawless narrative tone, I rate “RAT” 5 out of 5 stars.
I would recommend “RAT” to everyone who likes historical fiction and, especially, adventure. This novel would make an excellent read for young adults who will not only find enjoyment in Ryan’s endless pursuits but also a role model of a stand-up man through and through. The novel contains very little profanity or erotic mentions, so I think it’s an appropriate read for young adults. Although the author presented them perfectly, readers who don’t have the patience for a vast array of characters or for timely language might want to pick another novel.
AF, 14 January 2022
- Title: RAT
- Author: Priscilla B Shuler (Award-winning Author of “Kuimba”)
- Genre: Fiction (Historical Romance)
- Publication Date: 17 August 2016
- ISBN or ASIN: B01KL6L0FQ
Themes (Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual: TBDL
- Religious: TBDL
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: TBDL
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: TBDL
- Other adult tones: TBDL
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Know more about Priscilla B Shuler via https://thechrysalisbrewproject.com/2021/11/16/meet-our-author-priscilla-b-shuler/.