Review: The Coachman Rat: Goodbye, Cinderella

The Coachman Rat

The Coachman Rat: Goodbye Cinderella. A Review by Stephanie Vannello

Not too long ago I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, a minor in Writing, and over twenty plus books from the university’s library. Each month the library randomly released free books to anyone who wanted them. Needless to say, I was not shy to these offers.

One book I found within their literary free-for-all was a different perspective on a classic fairy tale. Written by David Henry Wilson and published in 1989, The Coachman Rat is not a typical retelling of Cinderella. If anything, Cinderella isn’t even the main focus.

Instead the story revolves around a rat named Robert, who is turned into a coachman for Cinderella’s (here, Amadea’s) venture to the ball. When the clock strikes midnight he returns to his rodent form, but is not satisfied with his reverse transformation. He then begins his quest for the fairy godmother (here, the “woman of light”), the very being who changed him into a human. During his journey he sees the errors, destruction, and evils of society. Throughout the story and changing times readers witness Robert’s struggles with the separation of his newfound human awareness and his personal, animal origins.

The aftermath of his final transformation and his journey to find the “woman of light” reaches out to the reader, offering them aspects applicable to their lives. These concepts allow the reader to think deeply about the world around them and themselves. How hate and anger can easily change a person, how the truth can harm someone we love, and how we must sacrifice what we admire to save something on a larger, grander scale.

This story also keeps close to the time period when it was based on. The Coachman Rat focuses on Europe’s Age of Enlightenment and its descent into a revived Black Plague. The thought provoking aspects of the book tie in with insightful notes from the prior era.

While reviewers claim that this story is for children and young adults, I believe it is suited more for adults because of its dark content. Even a review on the cover clearly states that this book is for grown-ups. The Coachman Rat is a quick read of 171 pages and can easily be finished in a day. I personally adored this piece because of its deep meaning, the elimination of ‘happily ever after, and a unique ending to material that stirs the mind.


Stephanie Vannello is a graduate of the Richard Stockton University of New Jersey. She’s currently in love with Joe Hill’s Horns and Indian food. She has been published on Google Scholar, The Cape May Herald, and various college literary magazines.

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