The Dark Portal was my very first book. It began as one tiny drawing of an albino runt who became Oswald Chitter. My desire was to make his world as convincing and frightening as possible. I wanted the reader to believe in these characters and fear for them.
Robin Jarvis

The Dark Portal is the first novel in The Deptford Mice trilogy by Robin Jarvis. It was originally published in 1989 as a Purnell book by Macdonald & Company in London. The book was a runner-up for the 1989 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize.

Book description Edit

In the sewers of Deptford there lurks a dark presence that fills the tunnels with fear: Jupiter, a dark god known only by his evil, no one really knows who he is except for his lieutenant Morgan his glowing eyes seen behind a dark "portal" in the tunnel wall. The rats worship him and do his dark bidding.

The Deptford mice, who worship the Green Mouse who brings Spring, are aware of Jupiter's evil presence in the tunnels. One of the mice, Albert Brown, is pulled through a grate into the sewers by the dark enchantments that Jupiter has woven there. He meets a cheeky mouse from the city, Piccadilly, also lost inside the lair of the rats. When Albert is captured by Morgan, a Cornish, piebald rat with a stump for a tail and rings through his ears (none other than Jupiter's lieutenant) and brought to Jupiter, Piccadilly escapes into Albert's home, known as the Skirtings, where he meets a large number of friends.

Firstly, there is Audrey Brown, Albert's day-dreaming daughter who hates Piccadilly for surviving where her father did not. Then there is Arthur Brown, Audrey's plump and funny brother. There is also simple fieldmouse William Scuttle or 'Twit' and his cousin, the sickly albino runt, Oswald Chitter. Along with the old Midship-mouse, Thomas Triton and Gwen Brown, the mother of Audrey and Arthur, they venture into the sewers to banish Jupiter from the world. The Rat God, however, has an evil plan to unleash the Black Death on the world once more, ridding it of humans and enabling him to conquer it.

After a tense-confrontation with Jupiter in this throne-room during which the malevolent deity is revealed to be a monstrous cat, Audrey defeats the Dark Lord by flinging her mousebrass at him. The talisman explodes and Jupiter falls into the water that is rapidly flooding his chamber. The spirits of the many mice and rats he has tortured and devoured then rise up and drag the dark god down to a watery grave. Audrey glimpses her father among the legion of spirits as they depart and despairs, realising that he is truly dead. The sewer floods and the Black Death is destroyed. Thankful that they are alive and resolving to celebrate Jupiter's downfall once they return home, the mice begin the journey back to the surface but as they leave, Orfeo the bat foretells doom...

Plot Edit

Prologue: The Grille Edit

Chapter 1: The Altar of Jupiter Edit

Chapter 2: Audrey Edit

Chapter 3: The Fortune-Teller Edit

Chapter 4: Three in the Dark Edit

Chapter 5: The Return Edit

Chapter 6: Visitors in the Attic Edit

Chapter 7: The Midshipmouse Edit

Chapter 8: White and Grey Edit

Chapter 9: Trusting to Luck Edit

Chapter 10: Magic on the Heath Edit

Chapter 11: Dangerous Company Edit

Chapter 12: Hot Milk and Honey Edit

Chapter 13: Dark Rewards Edit

Chapter 14: The Dark Portal Edit

Character listing Edit

The MiceEdit

  • Albert Brown: Loving father and devoted husband. Albert is a commonsensical mouse, not given to rash actions.
  • Arthur Brown: Fat and jolly, Arthur likes a scrap but always comes off worse.
  • Audrey Brown: Tends to dream. She likes to look her best and wears lace and ribbons. Audrey cannot hold her tongue in an argument, and often says more than she should.
  • Gwen Brown: Gentle wife of Albert and caring mother of Arthur and Audrey. Her love of her family binds it together and keeps it strong.
  • Arabel Chitter: Silly old gossip who gets on the nerves of everyone in the Skirtings.
  • Oswald Chitter: Arabel's son is an albino runt. Oswald is very weak and is not allowed to join in some of the rougher games.
  • Piccadilly: A cheeky young mouse from the city, Piccadilly has no parents and is very independent.
  • Thomas Triton: A retired midshipmouse. Thomas is a heroic old salt - he does not suffer fools gladly.
  • William Scuttle or 'Twit': Twit is a fieldmouse visiting Arabel Chitter, his mother's sister. Twit is an innocent, and does not have a bad word to say about anyone.
  • Eldritch and Orfeo: Are brothers, and as bats see far into the future. Bat advice is a very dangerous thing to seek, for they tell you only fragments of what they know.
  • The Green Mouse: A mysterious figure in mouse mythology. He is the spirit of spring, and of new life.

The RatsEdit

  • Madame Akkikuyu: A black rat from Morocco. She is a fortune-teller who wanders around selling potions and charms to gullible customers.
  • Finn: A sly old worker - one of his ears is missing, but he doesn't miss much.
  • Fletch: A dirty old rat with bad breath and spots on his nose.
  • One-Eyed Jake: A popular rat who is threatening to oust Morgan from office.
  • Jupiter: The great dark God of the Sewers. He lives in the dark portal and possesses awesome powers. All fear him.
  • Leering Macky: A rat with a terrible squint. He and Vinegar Pete are old cronies.
  • Morgan: The Cornish piebald rat who is Jupiter's lieutenant. Morgan trusts no one, and does all Jupiter's dirty work.
  • Skinner: A rat with a mouse-peeler strapped on to his stump of an arm.
  • Smiler: A strong giant of a rat who works in the mine.
  • Vinegar Pete: This rat never smiles. His face is always sullen and he and Leering Macky mutter to themselves.

Editions Edit

Stage playEdit

Main article: The Deptford Mice (stage play)

The book was adapted by Ed Young and Keith Wallis into a stage play in 2010. It was performed by London-based theatre company Tiny Dog Productions. After successful preview showings at The Space Theatre, London, the production was again performed in April 2011 at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice books
The Deptford Mice:
The Dark Portal | The Crystal Prison | The Final Reckoning
The Deptford Histories:
The Alchymist's Cat | The Oaken Throne | Thomas
The Deptford Mouselets:
Fleabee's Fortune | Whortle's Hope | Ogmund's Gift (unreleased)
The Deptford Mice Almanack