Jarvis, Robin 1963–
Jarvis, Robin 1963–
Born May 8, 1963, in Liverpool, England. Education: Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University), degree (graphic design).
Home—South London, England.
Children's writer, 1989—. Previously worked as a model-maker for television programming.
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize shortlist, 1989, and Booklist Editors' Choice designation, 2000, both for The Dark Portal; Lancashire Libraries Award, for The Whitby Witches.
The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, Puffin (London, England), 1999, Silver Whistle (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Deathscent, Collins (London, England), 2001.
The Dark Waters of Hagwood, Puffin (London, England), 2008.
"DEPTFORD" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
The Dark Portal, Purnell (London, England), 1989, SeaStar (New York, NY), 2000.
The Crystal Prison, Purnell (London, England), 1989, SeaStar (New York, NY), 2001.
The Final Reckoning, Simon & Schuster UK (Hemel Hempstead, England), 1990, SeaStar (New York, NY), 2002.
The Oaken Throne, Simon & Schuster UK (Hemel Hempstead, England), 1993, SeaStar (San Francisco, CA), 2005.
Thomas, Macdonald Young (Hemel Hempstead, England), 1995, Chronicle (San Francisco, CA), 2006.
The Deptford Mice Almanack (omnibus), Macdonald Young (Hove, England), 1997.
Fleabee's Fortune, Hodder (London, England), 2004.
Whortle's Hope, Hodder (London, England), 2007.
Ogmund's Gift, Hodder (London, England), 2008.
"WHITBY WITCHES TRILOGY"
The Whitby Witches, Simon & Schuster UK (Hemel Hempstead, England), 1991, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2006.
A Warlock in Whitby, Simon & Schuster UK (Hemel Hempstead, England), 1992.
The Whitby Child, Simon & Schuster UK (Hemel Hempstead, England), 1994.
"TALES FROM THE WYRD MUSEUM" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
The Woven Path, Collins (London, England), 1995.
The Raven's Knot, Collins (London, England), 1996.
The Fatal Strand, Collins (London, England), 1998.
The Dark Portal was recorded as an audiobook.
Robin Jarvis stumbled accidentally into a career as a children's book author when he penned the first of his "Deptford" fantasy novels about a group of mice. "I never intended to write books at all," the British author explained on his home page. "I used to work as a model-maker for television programs, and commercials. The Deptford Mice evolved when I was taking a break from designing a large, furry alien and fancied drawing something small for a change." Jarvis's sketch of the first Deptford mouse launching him on a career that made him well-known in the United Kingdom. More than ten years later he earned new fans when "Deptford" novels such as The Dark Portal, The Oaken Throne, and Thomas crossed the Atlantic and won over American readers.
The Dark Portal introduces readers to the world of the Deptford Mice, who live in an abandoned old house and follow the traditions and religion of the Green Mouse. When father mouse Albert Brown is drawn into the sewers through magic, the peaceful world of the mice collides with the realm of the villain Jupiter, an enchanter, and the dangerous sewer rats that follow him. "Jarvis provides counterpoint to the heart-racing adventure with scenes of haunting beauty," wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly, and Kliatt critic Deirdre B. Root found the novel to be "entertaining and genuinely frightening."
The "Deptford" series continues in The Crystal Prison, as Arthur's daughter Audrey Brown undertakes a quest to bring an ancient squirrel mystic back to Deptford. In return for the squirrel's services, Audrey must accompany a rat to the countryside, where she is blamed for a series of murders. To clear her name, she and other city mice work to uncover the identity of the dark figures lurking within the country community. In The Final Reckoning the evil Jupiter has returned as the Unbeast, a mystical force of evil. The conclusion of The Crystal Prison is "breathtakingly thrilling," noted Eva Mitnick in School Library Journal, and a Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Final Reckoning "a gripping page turner" in which Jarvis builds to "a crescendo of savage horror, relieved only by a few grace notes of tender poignancy." In Booklist Sally Estes called the concluding novel "a humdinger of a tale."
The "Deptford" series is comprised of three subtrilogies, the second which focuses on Jupiter's history. In The Alchemist's Cat, set in 1664 London, a boy
named Will Godwin rescues a cat and three kittens from likely death, only to accidentally bring them into contact with an evil alchemist. "Jarvis delivers a vivid tale of treachery, cruelty, and sorcery, leavened only by Will's innate goodness," wrote Booklist contributor Sally Estes. Taking up the story, The Oaken Throne describes the age-old war between the bats and the squirrels, and Thomas reveals the past of a character from the original trilogy: shipmouse Thomas Triton. "Despite these veiled hints of an underlying supernatural conflict, the characters and their dilemmas remain immediate and exquisitely drawn," explained a contributor to Kirkus Reviews in an appraisal of The Oaken Thone. Jarvis's "heroes are stalwart and true; the villains sadistic and grotesque; and the nonstop action builds," maintained another Kirkus Reviews critic in reviewing Thomas. The third subtrilogy in the "Depford" saga consists of Fleabee's Fortune, Whortle's Hope, and Ogmund's Gift.
In addition to the "Deptford" books, Jarvis has also penned two fantasy series about humans. In The Woven Path, the first book in his "Tales from the Wyrd Museum" trilogy, young Neil is blackmailed by a time-
traveling bear to go into the past to rescue four-year-old Josh. As they journey through London during the Blitzkrieg—the bombing Germany inflicted on that city during World War II—Neil meets soldiers as well as demons trying to keep him from returning home. The series continues in The Raven's Knot and The Fatal Strand. "Time-travel fantasy and family drama are mixed in with horror," Lisa Prolman wrote in her School Library Journal review of The Woven Path.
The Whitby Witches, which, along with A Warlock in Whitby and The Whitby Child, comprises another fantasy series, introducing orphans Ben and Jennet. Ben's ability to see ghosts makes people frightened of him, so he and Jennet move to the seaside village of Whitby, where they live with Alice Boston, an elderly woman who is not what she seems. When dangerous enchantments begin affecting Alice's friends, the three must work together to solve the mystery. Kay Weisman, writing in Booklist, called The Whitby Witches "equal parts mystery and fantasy," comparing Alice to Agatha Christie's famous sleuth Miss Marple. Saleena L. Davidson, reviewing the same novel for School Library Journal, deemed the book "a dark but delightful read that involves ghosts, evil magicians (and good ones), and an ancient curse."
Both The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood and its sequel, The Dark Waters of Hagwood, feature small creatures known as werlings, which are shape changers. Gamaliel Tumpin seems an unlikely hero as he cannot master the basics of shape changing, but when he and others are saved by the Wandering Smith, an exile from the land of Faerie, Gamaliel is drawn into a much larger quest and the fate of all the werlings may depend on him. "Fantasy adventure fans will be grateful for the cliffhanger ending that promises another installment," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews in a review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, and a Publishers Weekly critic concluded that "Jarvis turns up the volume on his trademark suspense blended with whimsy."
Along with writing the novels, Jarvis provides illustrations for many of the covers and interiors. Discussing his decision to write fantasy on his home page, he noted: "My main pleasure … is in giving myself and the reader as much variety as possible. I'd hate to have to write about the same old thing all the time."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 15, 2000, Sally Estes, review of The Dark Portal, p. 438; April 15, 2001, Sally Estes, review of The Dark Portal, p. 1561; August, 2002, Sally Estes, review of The Final Reckoning, p. 1949; November 1, 2002, Sally Estes, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 496; April 15, 2003, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 1465; November 1, 2004, Sally Estes, review of The Alchemist's Cat, p. 484; September 1, 2005, Sally Estes, review of The Oaken Throne, p. 111; October 1, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of The Whitby Witches, p. 54; January 1, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Thomas, p. 81.
Childhood Education, summer, 2003, Aaron Condon, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 245.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of The Final Reckoning, p. 1034; September 1, 2002, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 1311; September 15, 2004, review of The Alchemist's Cat, p. 915; October 1, 2005, review of The Oaken Throne, p. 1081; August 15, 2006, review of Thomas, p. 844; September 1, 2006, review of The Whitby Witches, p. 905.
Kliatt, January, 2002, Deirdre B. Root, review of The Dark Portal, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, September 4, 2000, review of The Dark Portal, p. 109; August 27, 2001, reviews of The Crystal Prison, p. 86, and The Dark Portal, p. 87; October 14, 2002, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 84; November 20, 2006, review of The Whitby Witches, p. 59.
School Librarian, May, 1992, review of The Alchmyst's Cat, p. 71; spring, 2005, Josie Hervey, review of Fleabee's Fortune, p. 35.
School Library Journal, December, 2000, Steven Engelfield, review of The Dark Portal, p. 145; June, 2001, Lisa Prolman, review of The Woven Path, p. 150; November, 2001, Eva Mitnick, review of The Crystal Prison, p. 159; September, 2002, Beth Wright, review of The Final Reckoning, p. 226; November, 2002, Eva Mitnick, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 169; December, 2004, Christine McGinty, review of The Alchemist's Cat, p. 148; February, 2006, Christine McGinty, review of The Oaken Throne, p. 132; October, 2006, Saleena L. Davidson, review of The Whitby Witches, p. 158.
Times Educational Supplement, March 21, 1997, review of The Raven's Knot, p. 14; January 8, 1999, review of The Fatal Strand, p. 26.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2001, review of The Dark Portal, p. 12; April, 2003, reviews of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 26, and The Final Reckoning, p. 65; February, 2004, review of The Thorn Ogres of Hagwood, p. 456; February, 2007, Christine Sanderson, review of The Whitby Witches, p. 540.
Robin Jarvis Home Page,http://www.robinjarvis.com (June 25, 2007).