"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
This was my first Terry Pratchett book, and I'm aware that it's not indicative of his typical work. Still, I got to sample the humorous writing style and wordplay that he is known for so well, and I look forward to reading that "voice" put to use on fantasy soon.
I intentionally read this book while Oliver Twist was still fresh in my mind so I could catch the similarities and diversions. Which would be 1 (Dodger's name) and too numerous to count. My biggest disappointment in this book is that it's not a "retelling" of Oliver Twist from Dodger's perspective, and this doesn't even seem to be the same Dodger. It seems a little unfair to co-opt a famous character from literature, place him in Dickensian London (and actually interacting with Charles Dickens), and then not give even a passing nod to the source material. One might imagine that Charles Dickens based "his" Dodger on his encounters with "this" Dodger, but the connection was still far more tenuous than I would have liked.
So, with that rant out of the way, to judge the book on its merits:
The thing is, if this book were not a retelling (which it wasn't), I wouldn't have been particularly interested in it. I'm not all that into Dickensian London and I'm pretty choosy about historical fiction in general. So while not being the sort of book I usually read, it was entertaining enough. It lost my interest in a few places but was simple enough to follow that I didn't lose much for it, and it was delightful and funny in places -- not so much intrinsically, but because of the way Pratchett told it. This book seems to be most popular among those who know a lot about Victorian England -- I didn't realize that so many of the characters who had cameos were real people, and I probably would have enjoyed it more with a better grounding. The only two I recognized were Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd, who was handled especially well.
So, probably not the best Pratchett to start with, but at least it didn't scare me away.