The Rat Prince, by Bridget Hodder (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2016) , is a Cinderella imagining in which the rat who gets transformed into a coachman is the central character. Prince Char is indeed a prince among rats, and he and his rat subjects are not your garden variety rodents. They are pretty much human in mentality (though with rattish concern for Food), and their fortunes have been tied to the human house of Lancastyr for generations. Prince Char watches as the last of the Lancastyrs, known as Cinderella by her cruel stepmother, suffers, and the stepmother, quick to turn to poison when it suits her, is no friend of the rats either. Rat and girl become friends (he can understand human speech)...and Prince Char comes up with a plan that might save them both from the intolerable situation. If Cinderella goes to the ball, and marries the prince, she can kick the stepmother out, saving the rats and ensuring that the Lancastyr bloodline will continue (without the family, the rats are just rats....).
And though the stepmother does her best to keep Cinderella from the ball, magic come into the story when the patron goddess of Cinderella's family comes to lend a hand. Prince Char is now a handsome, princly human, Cinderella goes to the ball....and though the whole business of her marrying the prince is rather more complicated than in the familiar story (this version adds a nice level of complication to the situation)...Cinderella gets her happy ending.
The chapters alternate between Prince Char and Cinderella, so that both get a chance to become real characters to the reader. Char is ratty enough when still a rat to be believable (sort of), and although his transformation to human form is unbelievably unproblematic with little residual rat, this is perhaps for the best given that he and Cinderella are in love.....
If you like fairy tale retellings and sweet romances suitable for younger kids to read (and if you can cope with the fact that one of the players is an ex-rat, which is really rather odd), you'll enjoy this one! There's enough family history unfolded gradually to add some depth to the plot, and the situation with the human prince adds danger. Plus there's the emotional weight of Cinderella's situation with her (absolutely justified) concern for her father keeping her trapped in a horrible situation. In short, it's a fun, fast read that makes for a satisfying whole. A good one for 9-11 year olds, not quite substantial enough for anyone much older unless they enjoy reading light fairy tale romance.