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.
©2014 Second Age, Inc. (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
I'm not really a fan of classic literature but I do enjoy "alternate history" and this is sort of an alternate history of a classic fictional story. As such, the language and writing style took a little while to get behind and it was quite a few chapters before I felt "invested" in the story, but overall I feel the author did a good job capturing the classical feel in his writing, although I do agree with some other reviewers that he thinks himself a bit too clever at times. That feeling usually came across the strongest when the author was expressing the thoughts of a certain horse or of himself as the narrator of this tale.
I received this book from Amazon as part of their Kindle First program so I didn't actually read the entire synopsis before I started reading the book. Had I known initially that this was a vampire tale I wouldn't have picked it up. However, to me, the vampires are really just a sub-plot (even though they are presented as the main plot) and are presented as the foil against which the true character of the Artful Dodger and company are revealed.
The story isn't groundbreaking. It isn't really even anything new, but it's well told and ultimately enjoyable. I highly recommend adding the Audible narration to your purchase if you are into that sort of thing. This is the first time I have switched back and forth between reading and listening to a book and the narration by James Langton is truly fantastic and added a lot to my enjoyment of the book.
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.
I didn't like Pride and Prejudices and Zombies -- strictly a one-trick pony. After the first hour or so, you'd already heard all the jokes so after that it was just silly and boring. I'm also one of the three people on the planet who hated Wicked. Since then I've tended to avoid books that re-envision characters from stories I liked just fine in the original.
Now this, on the other hand, shows how it CAN be done. The Artful, as our hero is usually called, is a delightful young "gentleman" and the other characters, many of whom will be familiar to the reader, are wonderfully woven into an adventure/fantasy that takes us on a joy ride through London circa 1835. It wold be hard to say more without spoilers -- let's just say the suspense is maintained right up to the end. Okay, one almost-spoiler: I loved what the author did with that syrupy-sweet Oliver!
As for the plot, well I don't suppose you could ever call a novel in the "fictional-character-revisited-in-an-alternate-universe" genre believable, so let's just say that in this case the plot "holds together".
The narration is spot-on. The only other James Langton book I remember listening to was non-fiction; I'm going to look for some more of his.
Self professed geek and Hermit
ok If you like the mix of classic lit with new angles, you will enjoy this listen. PAD is at his witty best, and the reader hit the right tone
characters are easily differentiated and the pace is brisk and enjoyable.
"Dodger the Slayer"
Another good read by Peter David, and update on classic characters with a few cameos thrown in for good measures
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