Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl—not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.
From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.
Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy's rise in a complex and fascinating world.
Now, I’m no Victorian England scholar, so I don’t really know if it’s technically a Cockney accent that abounds in this book, but it sure as heck is a street Brit’s accent that Dodger uses. Dodger is a 17 year-old guy who lives on the streets as a tosher, which just may be the most disgusting job I’ve ever heard of. A tosher is one who peruses the sewers of London looking for any coins that may have washed down into the gutters along with untold amounts of human debris (otherwise known as poo.) There’s a whole new occupation to look into for Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.”
“Dodger” follows the boy as he gets caught up in a police case involving a battered woman. Dodger’s heroics walking home after a day of toshing see him saving an unknown woman, who turns out to be highly sought after by potentially deadly foreign powers. Dodger has to find a way to save the woman from being continually stalked. Along the way he runs into the likes of Charles Dickens, Sweeney Todd, and Queen Victoria.
This is a great snapshot into English history. In his acknowledgements, Pratchett notes he tried really hard to make this as historically accurate as possible, despite the fact the book is fiction. Pratchett really gets you into the nitty gritty of London, showing us that most amounts of poverty we see today have nothing on poverty back in the day. That’s not to say that people today can’t have a difficult time if poor, it’s just to acknowledge how much better public sanitation has thankfully become.
Dodger, who literally mucks around in this messy world, is a wonderfully complex character. He is uneducated and was raised as a thief, yet he does his absolute best to steer clear of thievery these days and has a moral compass that points truer than most. While he may appear shabby on the surface, he is anything but, which is something he constantly proves to his “betters” who think he can’t possibly cavort in high society as an equal. The best part about him is that he is so endearingly humble, wanting to play down the label of “hero” even though he so clearly is one. Just a little warning, Dodger and his pals talk in thick Cockney (or street Brit) accents, and at the beginning it can be a little hard to follow if you’re not used to that kind of flavorful talk. As the story goes along, though, you get the hang of it, and catch yourself beginning to talk like our chaps across the pond.
Really gives you appreciation for the public sanitation system we have today.
A protagonist who is not as simple as he first seems.