Warren Peace

warren peace

Published: 2012
Author: Michael Wombat

Cute bunnies, cruel foxes – not for the faint-hearted


When it comes to foxes I’m one of those woolly, liberal tree huggers that the Daily Telegraph loves to hate. I like foxes, I don’t think they are the enemy. When I read stories about rampaging red beasties eating our babies in towns and cities across the nation I tend to let my cynical side run riot and wonder if it’s really true before calling for a cull of Basil and all his friends. Michael Wombat’s Warren Peace could easily have me joining the Heythrop Hunt and believing everything the Daily Mail says though, this is a book that is firmly on the side of the rabbit with our foxy friends painted as the villain in a fabulously gory tale of the countryside.

A large family of rabbits live a pleasant, carefree life until one horrific day when they are attacked by a group of foxes. Nervous, stuttering rabbit Cuetip unwittingly volunteers to find a venue for a new warren while new leader Ernestine has to bring together the rabbit family and protect them from the foxes until Cuetip returns with news of (literally) pastures new.

If you have images of this being a lovely book suitable for your precious ickle boo-boos then I’m going to stop you right there. This is decidedly not a novel for younger children, perhaps a well-adjusted older child won’t be traumatised but I wouldn’t count on it. I’m 37 and felt upset by what was happening to the adorable bunnies. Four chapters in and I was haranguing the author on Twitter for scaring me so much (@wombat37) – he was happily unrepentant, as he should be.

Don’t let the gore put you off though. While there are scenes of violence they are completely relevant to the plot. And what a plot! There’s a bit of everything – danger, excitement, political intrigue, evil humans and best of all there’s also heroic cats.

The characters, despite being animals, are well written and believable. Cuetip is a great leading man (rabbit). Scared at first and forced into a situation beyond his control he develops into a brave and resourceful hero. Back at the warren Ernestine is also learning to fit into her new role and goes through her own development. The foxes are hissably bad villains and the traitor within the warren is a wonderfully wicked character. I can’t recall reading a book where animal characters were so easy to relate to.

Inevitably comparisons will be drawn with Watership Down.  The comparisons are fair but if Bright Eyes makes you cry you’d better hope this never comes with a soundtrack or you’ll be a sobbing wreck.

Michael Wombat’s writing is addictive, I read Warren Peace in a day. Less than a day in fact – most of it was read on the short train journey from Dublin to Belfast. It’s a sign of how compelling and well written the book is that I was prepared to ignore my husband in favour of Cuetip and his friends.

This is a very well written, fun, frightening and addictive book. If you have children who would be able to cope with the scary scenes then set them loose on this, if you’re an adult who can cope with blood, guts and dead bunnies then have a read yourself.

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