Oliver Twisted by J.D. Sharpe, Charles Dickens
Paperback, 274 pages
My shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected,
currently-reading, fantasy, horror,
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published February 6th 2012 by Egmont Books
Description via Goodreads:
“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.
My thanks go to Egmont's new imprint, Electric Monkey, for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
I am not usually tempted by books of this type - an idea taken from a classic book, but changed by a new author, adding new ideas. However, I was glad to see that this wasn't the original work with some new parts stuck in, but instead it was reworked and retold in a very original manner by an author who obviously loved the original characters.
As many of you will know, it was the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens this week, and so I thought, although it's not a traditional work of his, but rather a modern reworking, I'd pick up Oliver Twisted and see how it was. With it's great foundation and it's modern ideas, this was a fun read. Ashamedly, I haven't read Oliver Twist, but of course I am aware of the basic aspects of the story from other media, like most. From the altered name of this novel and it's very apt tagline 'Please, I want some gore', I knew that this was going to be a bit different from the original!
Our new story follows Oliver who is, as a lone orphan, travelling to London where he befriends Dodge and subsequently gets drawn into a world where he is used by Fagin in order to try and gain power for his evil brotherhood. The story is well written, thanks to a good basis and good original characters.
For our main character, Oliver Twisted, a new and very gory story including zombies, vampires, werewolves and soul stealers is created. Due to these creatures that are very popular at the moment in young adult literature, I think that this book will appeal a lot of young adult readers, especially those who enjoy the paranormal genre.
Characters that appear and that you may recognise include Fagin, Dodge, Bill Sikes and Nancy. These all possess the characteristics of their original personalities, but Sharpe has also expanded and added a new lease of life to them, making them react realistically to their new situations.
The writing was good - there was still reference to the old english writing style right at the beginning, but for the most part, the writing was modern and very easily accessible to middle grade children upwards. The book is extremely gruesome - the grotesque descriptions made me squirm several times but were very effective - I can imagine that a lot of children would love this aspect, but beware if you have a sensitive stomach! The pace of the story is very fluid and it does become quite action packed towards the end. This was easy to read and rather quick, too - so there's no excuse not to give this one a go.
I think that JD Sharpe does do justice to this book and is successful in achieving what she intended - a twist to Oliver Twist, turning it into a modern 'horror' story - something that will certainly appeal to the majority of older children and young adults today. I would definitely recommend this and hopefully it will encourage more people to read the original work too - I know I certainly will, and I would love to read more from Sharpe, too!