THE ISLAND OF WHISPERS by Brendan Gisby made me think of WATERSHIP DOWN. In THE ISLAND OF WHISPERS there are no (mostly cuddly) furries with long ears, but, oh don't we all dread them, rats. And Gisby pulls it off. The rats become personalities, characters, doing what they have to do, very much reminding me of what we do to each other every day, somewhere.
Gisby creates a small world somewhere in the North of England, where - many generations after having arrived on a tiny island - the newcomers create a kingdom with a ruling family weakened by too much comfort, hubris and the illusion of safety. Next are the courtiers, the rats who run the shop, the protectors. The protectors keep the royal rat family far from the `dirty' business of survival and rule the roost with an iron fist and absolute ruthlessness. There are the hunters (providing the daily meals of hunted and killed gulls - the only other inhabitants apart from the rats - mainly for the ruling class) the watchers (the lookouts on rotating guard duty) followed by the slaves who do the dirty work.
Predictably some at the lower end of this particular rat society's scale tweak to the possibility of changing the system, of perhaps escaping and starting somewhere else, a new beginning with a fair system of government in a green and pleasant world.
The reader is soon caught up in the intrigues, sufferings, cruelties, deceits and can't help but soon identifying with, and supporting, the `good guys', suffering with that little band of braves their fear, the dangers, and rejoicing with them when their courage wins the day.
A great read. Once you start you won't stop until you're sure that all ends well. I became a kid again as well as contemplating some of the ills of our world which I think Gisby had in mind when he was writing THE ISLAND OF WHISPERS.