After the relative disappointment that was The Long Earth (which may have suffered from being a collaboration that just didn’t work), Terry Pratchett seems to be back in fine form with his latest novel Dodger. This is a departure from his highly popular Discworld series, instead being a dip into the historical fiction waters (or “historical fantasy” as he calls it, though it certainly is not a member of the fantasy genre), probably closest to his YA novel Nation, though perhaps not quite as YA.
The story takes place in Victorian London, where our hero Dodger, a young “tosher” who up until now made his living by scavenging in the sewers, starts by saving a damsel in distress and ends up interacting with numerous historical (and at least one fictional) characters, including “Charlie” Dickens, while looking to solve a mystery and make said damsel safe for good. Along the way, this reader, at least, learned a bit of history — being able to jump onto Wikipedia and Google on your e-reader can make this sort of book even more fun/educational. I found Sir Terry’s writing to be right up there with the best of his books, a welcome return from the much drier and less image-generating text of the aforementioned The Long Earth. Probably the only things that did not completely click for me were the title character being perhaps too good at too many things, and there being not much of an underlying theme: more of just an exposition on how the divide between lower and upper classes was probably greater back then.
Nit-picking aside, anyone who likes Victorian era historical fiction should enjoy this, as will any Pratchett fans willing to step outside of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genres.