Review of Dodger, by Terry Pratchett


by Terry Pratchett
read by Stephen Briggs

Dreamscape Media, 2012. 9 compact discs, 10 hours, 32 minutes.
2013 Printz Honor Book
Starred Review

I had planned for quite some time to read this book, but this is one where the audio should not be missed. Dodger is set in Victorian London, and yes, this is the Dodger from Dickens’ books and “Charlie” Dickens is a prominent character. So all the British accents, from the street people to the “nobs” add so much to the book.

Dodger is a “tosher” — someone who goes through the sewers looking for lost treasures like coins or jewelry. Only recently have nobs started dumping their waste in the sewers — originally they were built by the Romans to manage rainwater. And Dodger is good at his job, a veritable king of the toshers.

But one day during a storm, he comes up out of the sewers to see a young lady being beaten and forced back into a carriage. He rescues her, and both their lives will never be the same. That’s also when Dodger meets Charlie, who with his friend gets the girl to safety.

But it turns out that this girl’s fate is tied to international politics. There are powerful people who want her dead, and when Dodger gets on their wrong side, they’d also like Dodger dead. Along the way, Dodger has other notable adventures, such as encountering a villainous barber (Or is he villainous?) named Sweeney Todd.

This audiobook had me mesmerized from the start. In the first place, Terry Pratchett knows how to turn a phrase. (That’s the one problem with audiobooks. I can’t quote choice bits for you.) But as well as that, we’ve got the exotic but completely historical location — the sewers and streets of Victorian London. We’ve got international intrigue. We’ve got assassins after our hero. And we’ve got clever plots and counterplots. And we’ve got a clever, plucky hero who makes good.

Wonderful storytelling! Gripping adventure! Fascinating history! And my favorite: Great British accents! You can’t go wrong with this book.

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

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