‘Time Stops for No Mouse’ by Michael Hoeye
Part of my quest to read as many unread books on my shelves as possible before moving.
Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye has a synopsis almost too wacky to be believed: a watchmaker mouse named Hermux is drawn into the sinister world of quack doctor (mole) Dr. Mennus after a daring aviatrix (mouse) leaves her broken watch to be repaired and then disappears. This is a real book. Seriously.
Alas, the synopsis is pretty much the best thing about this first in Hoeye’s series about Hermux Tantamoq’s adventures. Although allegedly a book for children, the plot is weirdly adult with most of it turning on Dr. Mennus’ highly unethical and dangerous quest for a fountain of youth serum. Side-plots include the renovation of Hermux’s lobby by an extreme contemporary artist (otter), the increasingly insane antics of a diva cosmetics mogul (mouse), and the mistaken rumors spread by a gossipy mail carrier (mouse). Not exactly kid’s stuff.
On the bright side, the whimsy of Hoeye’s created world is strong enough to carry the day. Hoeye’s imagination in approaching the tiny world of Hermux and his community is stunning, if sometimes spotty. Unlike The Borrowers where the littleness of the protagonists is front and center with explanations of what human-sized things they’ve crafted to their own tiny use, the smallness of Hermux’s world is only occasionally noted and rarely explained. While Hermux does have a pet ladybug (an adorable touch that makes perfect sense), he is also a mouse watch-maker and no attempt is made to explain where or how he got his often-referenced watchmaker’s tools in miniature. Similarly, where does the tiny public transportation system come from? It’s a feat of imagination, but I do wish Mr. Hoeye was a bit more consistent. Either it’s a magical world only populated by mice or it’s some kind of Borrowers-esque people’s world from the rodent perspective. Either way, it should be explained.
All of which to say that my favorite parts were the premise and the details. The plot was bizarre and, in the end, confusing as one too many rugs were pulled out from under the reader’s feet. And a seemingly major romantic subplot was abruptly negated in the last pages. However, if you’re looking for something with some whimsical and amusing mental images, go for it. You won’t be disappointed by the visual of a little mouse and his friend enjoying a beautiful night at the opera in between solving a weird mystery.