I had a suspicion, from the very first minute I heard about Thunderpaws and the Tower of London, that we are onto something special. I genuinely believe this might be the next great British phenomenon, the children's series to travel around the world and set young minds alight. I'd love to see this series come to life on the big screen and think it would be perfect as an animated series.
Teufel (pronounced Two-Full and translated from the German 'Devil') is a very proud cat of a very nice vicar. He lives a nice, boring life in Devon until one day his world turns upside down. All of a sudden, Teufel is transported to the Tower of London where his vicar is now a chaplain and there are more ghosts than he can shake a catnip tree at. Oh, and there are big, fat ravens too.
In time, Teufel, or Thunderpaws to those who know his clumsy ways, will learn that the ravens of the Tower of London are not to be touched but not before he has a wild adventure that takes him to Battersea Park, St Dunstan-in-the-East and Big Ben, all the while saving London and the world from the biggest threat yet.
There is a lot to love about Thunderpaws and the Tower of London. The print edition is absolutely exquisite with text doodles and beautiful colour illustrations by Japanese illustrator MonoKubo. If you're buying this book for Kindle, do ensure that you open it on the Kindle app from time to time to see those illustrations.
If, like me, your two major loves in life are cats and London, you're in for a real treat with Thunderpaws and the Tower of London. I really enjoyed the depiction of Thunderpaws as a snarky, teenage boy. I have a much-beloved 15-year-old boycat Seth, an old man now but very much master of his kingdom back in the day; he could be the white-and-black cousin of Thunderpaws, and author Ben Housden captured that big attitude perfectly. He's clearly been owned by a cat or two in his time.
Any good London-based tale will teach you a thing or two about our history and Thunderpaws and the Tower of London is jam-packed full of ghosts and historical figures, especially those who met their demise at the Tower. Speaking of ghosts, there is a whole host of ghost cats and wise mice, heroic rats and misunderstood polar bears.
Ben Housden states that Thunderpaws and the Tower of London is suitable for readers aged 9 to 90. As a seeker of superior middle grade and young adult fiction, would I recommend this book specifically to readers aged 9 to 15? Absolutely. It's funny and silly, with enough cat farts and manipulative miaows to keep most readers entertained.
My only complaint was that much of the book was heavily plot-driven, which can make for slow reading. The story really ramps up towards the end though and we see Teufel's character begin to develop. As I often do at the end of series, I may well revise my rating up once I've read the sequel.
For being the most original book I've read this year, I give Thunderpaws and the Tower of London an excellent four out of five stars and recommend to everybody, especially fans of Rivers of London, A Street Cat Named Bob, A Darker Shade of Magic and The Infernal Devices.