By Author / Illustrator
Nosy Crow Ltd
Paperback / softback
This is the tale of Twill Twist, a girl brought into this world moments ahead of her more famous brother - Oliver Twist, the rags-to-riches orphan who became heir to the Brownlow fortune.
Journey with Twill on her own adventure through the gambling dens and workhouses of London, as she attempts to uncover the mystery of her past, make a life for herself, and rescue her friends. Along the way discover with Twill the likes of Artful Dodger and Fagin, and a host of fantastic new heroes and villains!
Compelling adventure with incredible atmosphere and vividly realistic setting come together in this brilliantly-imagined, rip-roaring 'sequel' to Dickens' much-loved classic from the author of the award winning 'No Ballet Shoes in Syria', Catherine Bruton.
You know the tale of Oliver Twist: the boy who asked for more, the reluctant pickpocket and orphan who became heir to a great fortune. Few people know that there was another Twist - a girl brought into the world moments before her brother. Another Twist in the Tale tells her story. Twill Twist: orphan baby girl and therefore worthless, is cruelly discarded on a rubbish heap but fortunately rescued by a young kitchen maid, Baggage Jones. Kind-hearted Baggage brings Twill up surrounded by card sharks and gamblers and the beautiful Butterfly Girls. To save her from the terrible clutches of the monstrous Madam Manzoni and Mrs Spanks, Baggage is forced to send Twill away. Destitute and alone on the London streets and with no idea of her brother's fortune, Twill learns that girls need to fight to survive. Luckily she is discovered by one Jack Dawkins who, after almost getting her arrested, introduces her to the sassy Sisterhood of Saffron Hill, an all-girl band of pickpockets and lady lawbreakers who answer to no man. On the streets of London dangers lurk around every corner, especially for women and children. Boys begin disappearing, enslaved in a forced labour institution run by the feared Fagin, then girls too. Once inside, they begin turning blue and none ever escapes. The only person able to foil the devious plot seems to be the missing Oliver Twist so Twill must step in - and anything boys can do girls can, of course, do better...
This is the most brilliantly imagined and stunningly executed spin-off story. Bruton takes some of Dickens' most well-loved and memorable literary characters and creates equally colourful heroes and villains of her own to live alongside them. Twill is a strong-willed, brave and determined protagonist, caring and kind-hearted despite her poor start in life. She's feisty, streetwise and, with a strong sense of justice, determined to right the many wrongs which surround her. Baggage, larger than life and with a heart of gold, forced to cast Twill back out onto the streets in order to save her, is simply unforgettable.
Bruton's meticulous research and attention to historical detail is second to none. She vividly evokes the workhouses, slums and sweatshops, the starving street children exploited by criminal gangs and, like Dickens himself, cleverly exposes the social injustice, gender inequality and life-threatening poverty rife in Victorian London.
Another Twist in the Tale is a masterpiece: a perfect introduction to the genius of Dickens for upper KS2/lower KS3 as well as an ideal story to tempt readers to discover more historical fiction. Obviously a huge Dickens aficionado, the fun Bruton had in writing this book shines through every page. She shares Dickens' knack of making readers look beyond the eccentric characters and their exciting, often very funny, adventures and makes readers stop and think about social issues and injustice for themselves. Familiarity with the original story is in no way essential to the enjoyment of this superb feminist spin-off, however. Descriptive chapter headings in the style of the original, short fast-paced chapters, witty dialogue and rich vocabulary keep readers hooked until the very last page. Twill's exciting adventure flies by; it's almost impossible not to read it in one sitting. I could not have loved it more. Hopefully, Bruton has lots of other classic story spin-offs in the planning!
A new illustrated series bringing the classics (hilariously) to life is Comic Classics by Jack Noel. Titles so far include Great Expectations and Treasure Island. The Awesomely Austen series offers illustrated and accessible retellings by some of the best children's authors for this age group. Another exciting story perfectly evoking the Victorian era is The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher while Victorian Cardiff forms the backdrop for Eloise Williams' theatrical thriller, Gaslight. The Boy Who Flew by Fleur Hitchock is another action-packed historical adventure with dastardly villains and ingenious child heroes. The Twelve Minutes to Midnight trilogy by Christopher Edge puts a supernatural twist on Victorian adventures while Lyn Gardner sets her gripping detective cases in a music hall in The Rose Campion Mysteries. Judith Eagle transfers the intrigue and family drama to Paris in The Pear Affair.
272 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Another Twist in the Tale is a sequel of sorts to Oliver Twist, following the exploits of his twin sister Twill, who was abandoned by Mr Bumble as a newborn. This is a fast paced, witty historical adventure with a good sense of place - you can almost smell the grimy backstreets of Victorian London.
Twill is a strong heroine and the lively cast of characters are easy to root for, particularly Oliver's old friend the Artful Dodger, and Baggage Jones, the kindly young woman who finds baby Twill on a rubbish heap and takes her in as her own. There is also the same highlighting of social injustice present in Dickens' novels, and the story does not shy away from the appalling conditions and dangers many of the children find themselves in.
I would recommend this book to fans of historical and adventure fiction in UKS2. It would also be useful as an accompanying text when teaching the Victorians, as well as a good introduction to Dickens' novels.
272 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alice Fanning, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+