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The subversive trilogy about Borribles, children who have grown pointy ears and live in a gritty subculture of London; less supernatural than Neverwhere, more urban and poorer than Bevis, but sharing some context with both of those, and apparently an inspiration to China Miéville.

The first book, The Borribles, is a direct attack on Elisabeth Beresford's Womble novels. Fighting off incursion by the evil rat-like Rumbles, a crack team of Borribles sets off to assassinate the Rumble leadership, Vulgarian, Napoleon Boot, Chalotte, Sydney, Bingo, Stonks, Torreycanyon, and Orococco. On the way they encounter the evil Dewdrop and his son, who are a direct parody of Steptoe and Son. I remember when first reading the book being rather stunned at the bleak ending, with several of our heroes facing certain doom at the hands of the Wendles, a fascist Borrible tribe who live under Wandsworth.

In The Borribles go for Broke, our heroes challenge both the grownup police of the Special Borrible Group and the leadership of the Wendles, for a visually memorable and violent climax in a subterranean tunnel of stinking mud. And in the third book, The Borribles: Across the Dark Metropolis, they fight an epic battle with the Special Borrible Group and its hired auxiliary force of dwarves.

It's subversive stuff - unapologetically violent and opposed to the social order; and extolling the virtues of loyalty to your friends rather than to those who tell you that they deserve you respect. But at the same time it's a rather cosy anarchism; no drugs (beer is drunk by Borribles, but only in the second books and not to excess, and there are adult alcoholics), no sex, and a rather cuddly take on race. It's also rather noticeable that Dewdrop's son is mocked for his learning disabilities, the Rumbles for their speech defects, and the evil dwarves are just evil. So I'm afraid the trilogy didn't quite live up to my memories of it.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
leedy
Oct. 17th, 2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
I *loved* those books when I was a kid. Sorry to hear they don't live up to adult re-reading.
wwhyte
Oct. 18th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
+1. I always thought the first was the best, though, and it sounds like it still is.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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