Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Haunting of Charles Dickens (MG)

The Haunting of Charles Dickens. Lewis Buzbee. With illustrations by Greg Ruth. 2010. October 2010. Feiwel & Friends. 368 pages.

London. Mid-summer night nearly upon us. Meg Pickel stood, as she had every night for six months now, at the edge of her family's roof-garden, and stared into the City, towards the massive black dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Meg, our heroine, is searching for her missing brother, Orion, while Mr. Charles Dickens, our heroine's godfather, is "searching" for his next novel. Can they succeed if they work together? Read and see for yourself in The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee.

I really enjoyed reading Steinbeck's Ghost. So I was excited to see Lewis Buzbee's next novel. While Steinbeck's Ghost had a modern day hero "discovering" Steinbeck through his works, The Haunting of Charles Dickens goes beyond that. Meg knows Charles Dickens. Or she knows certain aspects of him at least. He is more than an author she loves and adores. He is her friend. Readers "meet" Charles Dickens--as envisioned by Lewis Buzbee. (I'm not convinced Buzbee's Dickens resembles the actual Charles Dickens, but that's another story. Readers meet a kid-friendly Dickens minus some of his flaws.) It's a book about social injustices.
"We're all haunted, my friends," Mr. Dickens practically sang. "By what we forget. Now that we are un-forgetting, we must cease to be haunted. We must act...We must find Orion, Campion," he said. "You and Julia and myself, and Meg--Meg most of all--we must find Orion!"
Her father stood awkwardly and moved away from Mr. Dickens, his back to him. Aunt Julia leaned forward, suspended. Mr. Dickens waited. Her father turned.
"Charles, don't be so melodramatic. This isn't one of your novels."
"Not yet it isn't!" (83)
To call this head-dress a hat would be a gross injustice to all hats. What the lady wore on her head seemed quite undecided; it could not choose whether it wanted to be a very small piece of architecture or a rather large piece of French pastry. It was a head-dress, Meg thought, of considerable ambition. Along with its ambition, and its height--which matched its ambition--were the golden ornaments that hung about it, hiding here and there in the massive structure like sparrows in a hedge. (182)
I thought there were times when the writing worked well--Buzbee's descriptions were a nice touch. But it's not a perfect novel. There were times the writing seemed forced--like it was trying too hard, if that makes sense. (I'm not sure the Beatles references exactly fit.) But. I enjoyed reading this imagined behind-the-scenes story of Our Mutual Friend. And I enjoyed the illustrations. So while I didn't love, love, love it, I did like it.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Shirley 12:04 PM  

Having just watched this YouTube introduction to The Haunting of Charles Dickens, I must say the PR is remarkable! Based on this video alone, it is a book I must read! Thank you for your review of the novel. I have to see if I love it or like it as you do.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP