Oliver Twist is one of the most well-known stories ever told, about a young orphan who has to survive the mean streets of London before ultimately being rescued by a kindly benefactor.
But it is his friend, the Artful Dodger, who has the far more intriguing tale, filled with more adventure and excitement than anything boring Oliver could possibly get up to. Throw in some vampires and a plot to overthrow the British monarchy, and what you have is the thrilling account that Charles Dickens was too scared to share with the world.
From the brilliant mind of novelist and comic book veteran Peter David, Artful is the dark, funny, and action-packed story of one of the most fascinating characters in literary history.
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The Artful Dodger and the Vampyres
I was prepared to like this less than I did
I was prepared to like this less than I did. Oliver Twist was one of the Dickens' novels I didn't hate, and being a fan of creative rewrites, this novel peaked my curiosity. (And admittedly, as part of my Amazon Prime free monthly selections, it was cheap - as in free - so no real risk.)
A tale focused on the Artful Dodger - thats a plus. A tale that mocks and mimics Dickens' style - that was a surprise bonus. The novel takes place after Oliver Twist is adopted and Dodger is a teenager of an uncertain age. Many of the original Dickens' characters are there - Mr Fang, Fagin, Mr. Brownlow and some bit characters. What works is the narration - an old-fashioned Omniscient voice that periodically interrupts, comments, and provides side-bars. The chapter headings are a wonderful hyperbole of the original - as if they needed to be longer and provide more explanation. CHAPTER 4: OLIVER, BEING OFFERED ANOTHER PLACE, MAKES HIS FIRST ENTRY INTO PUBLIC LIFE.) is done to an exaggerated level: IN WHICH WE CONTINUE IN THE SPIRIT OF THE PRECEDING CHAPTER BY EXPLAINING HOW SOMEONE WHO SHOULD, BY NO RIGHTS, BE WALKING THE STREETS OF LONDON, NEVERTHELESS IS DOING PRECISELY THAT.
The novel is short enough that the narrator's interruptions aren't too straining, and they are sometimes rather amusing. The characters are well done - both the familiar and the new. The shortfall is in the plot. I like the concept - creative, entertaining, but it was somewhat predictable. It has been ages since I read Dickens and I saw the entry of characters a mile ahead. But, given all that, it was entertaining and a quick, easy read. (Note: I listened to the audiobook version - so there is a possibility that the emulation of the style of Dickens would wear on the eyes and sensibilities of a modern reader more than listening did.