Oliver Twisted

Oliver Twisted
J.D. Sharpe
Reviewed by Ali Baker
Electric Monkey
Mon, 06/02/2012

There has been a trend for mash up fiction recently: classics with added zombies, vampires, sea monsters and so on. 

Some have worked very successfully, while in some cases, the author has not been sensitive to the original text and authors’ intentions, and the result hasn’t entirely worked.

Oliver Twisted tells the well known tale of an orphan, born in a workhouse, sent to a baby farm then to an orphanage, who embodies the ignored humanity in the Poor Law machinery of early Victorian Britain. In JD Sharpe’s version, the Poor Law guardians are not only heartless but also vampires, feeding on the blood and flesh of the unfortunate children in their care. Once Oliver runs away from the cannibal Sowerberry family where he is apprenticed, the dangers he faces are not just the moral ones from the original text, but also zombies and werewolves.

Dickens is always a very physical writer, using a great deal of imagery of consumption to make his messages about the iniquities of poverty and the welfare system of the day that criminalised the poor. JD Sharpe’s text works almost seamlessly with this, as her supernatural additions are so flesh obsessed and ready to eat the poor and desperate rather than merely exploit them. In places it was necessary to return to the original text to spot the joins. Highly recommended.

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