Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review - Oliver Twisted

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
“FLESH, the woe-begotten moaned at Oliver, baring teeth which were ragged and black.
“FLESH,” came another moan, and he turned to see two more woe-begottens behind. They began to shuffle towards him, barefoot – toes blue from cold, arms outstretched.
The world according to Oliver Twisted is simple. Vampyres feed on the defenceless. Orphans are sacrificed to hungry gods. And if a woe-begotten catches your scent it will hunt you for ever. When a talking corpse reveals that Oliver will find his destiny in London, he sets out to seek the truth. Even if it means losing his soul.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A wonderfully gruesome and original adaptation of the Oliver Twist tale.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Oliver Twisted by JD Sharpe. I count myself really lucky to have received a copy of this from the UK since I can't yet see it on the Australian publishing horizon, though I hope it does appear on our shelves soon, because this is a fantastic take on Oliver Twist that I think will make a lot of readers very happy.

Let me say right now that you don't have to be an Oliver Twist fan in order to enjoy this book. I had a rather bad introduction to Mr Dickens with Hard Times, which I've since heard is not one of his best, but it also hasn't compelled me to read more. When I started reading Oliver Twist, I was a little worried since I didn't know the original story, save what I've absorbed from pop culture references, but the strength of the story is such that it really doesn't matter if you don't know the original text.

I'm a big fan of multi-creature worlds, i.e. books whose mythologies take different familiar monsters like vampires and swamp things and put them together. This is brilliantly achieved in Oliver Twisted, with the sinister werewolves living alongside malevolent wisps and soul stealers. I also loved the history which was hinted at throughout - the opening of a Hell Mouth which explained why the world was rotten to the core.

The other thing that really struck me about this book was how well the language was written. Normally this isn't something that I mind one way or another, but the mixture of Dickensian phrases and 'normal' English achieved the perfect balance between a modern book for teens and what you might expect to find in a book from the 1800s.

I'm interested to see if there will be others in this series, since the concept of it would seem to suggest not, though the broad world in which it is set almost screams for another tale.

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