in the United Kingdom by Hodder Children's Books.
© Leonid Gore.
alchemist glared at the cat. "It gratifies
me to see how mighty you have become, my familiar..."'
is the winter of 1664 and young Will Godwin,
an alchymist's assistant, chances upon a mother
cat and her three new-born kittens in a London
churchyard. Taking pity on the freezing family,
Will carries them back to his master's apothecary
shop. And there, among the bubbling bottles
and evil-smelling jars in Dr. Spittle's laboratory,
unfolds an extraordinary tale of sorcery, disease,
villainy and murder.
'Many past events
had been mentioned in the original trilogy of
"The Deptford Mice" which I wanted
to go back to and explore. This was the obvious
one to begin with. Jupiter's origins were intriguing,
how did he learn the magic? How did he get to
live so long down in the darkness?
I had been reading
the diaries of Samuel Pepys and spent ages revelling
in the research. Plague and the Great Fire -
I couldn't wish for a better backdrop!
being a prequel, I still wanted "The Alchymist's
Cat" to be packed with surprises and to
keep the reader guessing right till the end.
It was also interesting to see if I could combine
the human world with that of the animals.'
'In my mind
I imagined Doctor Spittle to be very like the
wonderful comic actor, Alastair Sim. On the
original cover however I used my barber as reference
and included the scene where he cuts Will's
hair especially for him.'
A beautiful ginger cat who gives
birth to three kittens. She is a hunter and hates
being trapped in the apothecary's attic.
gentle daughter of Imelza who tries to mediate between
and is mortally afraid of the brutal outside world.
runt of Imelza's offspring. Leech is jealous of his
brother's skill and learning and will let nothing
stand in his way to claw his way to power.
The strongest of Imelza's
children, he is hungry for knowledge and learns more
than his master ever realizes.
son who is tricked into slaving for Doctor Spittle
in his apothecary shop.Will is too good hearted to
let the cats he finds in a lonely churchyard perish
in the cold and so sets in motion a chain of terrible
old apothecary and secret alchemist whose main ambition
is to find the Philosopher's Stone and live the pampered,
wealthy life he believes he truly deserves.
of Doctor Spittle's most regular customers. He is
a dandy who is ambitious to impress the King but makes
the mistake of underestimating the malicious apothecary.
lonely woman who paints her face like a doll but whose
tongue is as sharp as a viper.
Horrible feline midwife
who mutters to her long dead husband and intimidates
first time mothers.
young woman who seems to know a great deal about medicines
and never speaks of her background.
deranged couple who live and run the raghouse but
are utterly devoted to one another.
learned alchemist from the previous century whose
spirit is called from beyond the grave and imprisoned
in a bottle by Doctor Spittle.
gormless brown rat who has been captured by Doctor
Spittle and lives in a cage in the attic.
black rat who is not afraid of 'the tigers' who pace
below his cage in the apothecary's attic and is rude
to them as often as possible.
kindly miller who takes Will Godwin on an ill fated
trip to London after the boy's family are wiped out
by the smallpox.