I’ve had a soft spot for “Oliver Twist” ever since I played a small role – that of Charlotte, the undertaker’s slatternly daughter – in my high school’s production of the musical “Oliver!” So when I saw “Artful: A Novel” being offered free as a Kindle First, I was intrigued to read a story told from the Artful Dodger’s point of view, then surprised and amused to see that said story involved vampires (or “vampyres,” as it is spelled in the novel, for reasons not fully explained).
In a mashup similar to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Peter David puts the Dickens characters into what reads like the novelization of a vampire action flick. It’s a fun, fast-paced tale that unfolds cinematically, despite its literary inspiration – even to the point of a scene in which a character does something dramatic in her mind that she doesn’t actually do (a TV/movie trope if ever there was one). I found the plot, involving characters taking various forms of transportation around London to hunt and fight vampires in different locations, a bit repetitive, and the climactic battle felt a little too easily resolved. But I enjoyed the dialogue and the humor, especially the narrator’s occasional Dickensian asides to the reader – wish there had been more of those. If you’re a fan of Christopher Moore’s books, especially “Bloodsucking Fiends“, I recommend this one.