Alchymist's Cat (header)

Published in the United Kingdom by Hodder Children's Books.

The Alchemist's Cat (US jacket)

Cover illustration
Leonid Gore.

'The alchemist glared at the cat. "It gratifies me to see how mighty you have become, my familiar..."'

The alchymist's familiar

It is the winter of 1664 and young Will Godwin, an alchymist's assistant, chances upon a mother cat and her three new-born kittens in a London churchyard. Taking pity on the freezing family, Will carries them back to his master's apothecary shop. And there, among the bubbling bottles and evil-smelling jars in Dr. Spittle's laboratory, unfolds an extraordinary tale of sorcery, disease, villainy and murder.
Robin Musings

'Many past events had been mentioned in the original trilogy of "The Deptford Mice" which I wanted to go back to and explore. This was the obvious one to begin with. Jupiter's origins were intriguing, how did he learn the magic? How did he get to live so long down in the darkness?

I had been reading the diaries of Samuel Pepys and spent ages revelling in the research. Plague and the Great Fire - I couldn't wish for a better backdrop!

Despite its being a prequel, I still wanted "The Alchymist's Cat" to be packed with surprises and to keep the reader guessing right till the end. It was also interesting to see if I could combine the human world with that of the animals.'

'In my mind I imagined Doctor Spittle to be very like the wonderful comic actor, Alastair Sim. On the original cover however I used my barber as reference and included the scene where he cuts Will's hair especially for him.'

The Characters

A beautiful ginger cat who gives birth to three kittens. She is a hunter and hates being trapped in the apothecary's attic.

The gentle daughter of Imelza who tries to mediate between her brothers and is mortally afraid of the brutal outside world.

Spiteful runt of Imelza's offspring. Leech is jealous of his brother's skill and learning and will let nothing stand in his way to claw his way to power.

The strongest of Imelza's children, he is hungry for knowledge and learns more than his master ever realizes.

William Godwin
A yeoman's son who is tricked into slaving for Doctor Spittle in his apothecary shop.Will is too good hearted to let the cats he finds in a lonely churchyard perish in the cold and so sets in motion a chain of terrible events.

Elias Theophrastus Spittle
Wicked old apothecary and secret alchemist whose main ambition is to find the Philosopher's Stone and live the pampered, wealthy life he believes he truly deserves.

Sir Francis Lingley
One of Doctor Spittle's most regular customers. He is a dandy who is ambitious to impress the King but makes the mistake of underestimating the malicious apothecary.

Peggy Blister
Vulgar, lonely woman who paints her face like a doll but whose tongue is as sharp as a viper.

Widow Mogs
Horrible feline midwife who mutters to her long dead husband and intimidates first time mothers.

Lovely young woman who seems to know a great deal about medicines and never speaks of her background.

The Gobtrots
Slightly deranged couple who live and run the raghouse but are utterly devoted to one another.

Magnus Zachaire
A learned alchemist from the previous century whose spirit is called from beyond the grave and imprisoned in a bottle by Doctor Spittle.

A gormless brown rat who has been captured by Doctor Spittle and lives in a cage in the attic.

Foreign black rat who is not afraid of 'the tigers' who pace below his cage in the apothecary's attic and is rude to them as often as possible.

John Balker
The kindly miller who takes Will Godwin on an ill fated trip to London after the boy's family are wiped out by the smallpox.


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