My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
by Peter David
There seems to have been an explosion of stories about the Artful Dodger between 2010-2014. Some of them stay true to the characters and events depicted in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and others fall somewhat short of the mark, but this one is pure fantasy and clearly intends to be so.
The thing is, it's done fairly well. The writing starts out really good and the author's explanation in the introduction makes perfect sense; of course Fagin was a vampire all along! The facts fit all too convincingly. The story flows quickly and has some moments where I can clearly visualize a movie version with some great comedy moments, although it slows down in the middle.
Jack has some definite ideas of how a gentleman behaves. In this, the author has painted a charming character, though sometimes he doesn't ring quite true. The attempt to create a lower class English accent gave away the author's American origins. It got to where every time I saw "ya" I was being pulled out and grumbling about Americans who try to sound English and getting it wrong. There were a couple of other niggles, like alternating references to a dog as either a German Shepherd or a Mastiff, two very different breeds.
The plot takes a turn for the cliché vampire story, but that I can forgive as it is obviously the intent of the storyteller to go into the fantastical on this one. It is often predictable, but nevertheless well told and there is a great diatribe on right and wrong that fits into the story very well. The one thing that put me off was trying to convince me that vampires age. Vampires don't sparkle, they don't produce children, and they don't age!
Overall I enjoyed it, though the last few chapters really strained credulity even in a world with vampires, and although the author seems to have been aware of the events in Oliver Twist generally, his artistic licence with Charley Bates pushed my Dickens purism a little too far.
Not great literature, but an amusing read.