The Scorpion's Tail, by James Moloney

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe


The action starts on the first page and keeps up a relentless pace as Berrin escapes from the dreaded Gadges into the tunnels underneath the city. Unfortunately, in doing so he reveals the hiding place of the Doomsday Rats – a group of children consisting of Dorian, Olanda, Ruben, Wendell, Quinn and their adult founder, Ferdinand.

With their secret uncovered the Rats prepare to defend themselves in the tunnels. This time though, the Gadges have a secret weapon – the creature created by Malig Tumora. This created being, known as a ‘probe’, can hear the whispered words and even their heartbeats to detect the presence of the Rats. It seems the days of the Rats are numbered.

If the Rats are eliminated there will be no-one left to fight the Malig Tumora, who keeps the adults of the city compliant and drugged by the fragrance of flowers carried through pipes into all homes in the city. In the course of trying to stop the Malig Tumora’s evil rule and defend their lives in the tunnels, the Rats encounter the Firedrake and a robotic scorpion.

This book is part of a series about the Doomsday Rats. Even those who have not read the first book The Tunnels of Ferdinand, will soon be drawn into the plight of these young survivors and their fight against the evil Malig Tumora and the Gadges. Author James Moloney has won the Australian Children Book of the Year twice, with Swashbuckler in 1996 and Bridge to Wisemans Cove in 1997. His comic novel Black Taxi was shortlisted for the 2004 CBC book for older readers and the Adelaide Festival Children’s Literature award.

The Scorpion’s Tail, by James Moloney
Angus&Robertson- an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Paperback, 2005
RRP $14.95, ISBN 0 2071 9666 4