Review: Olivia Twist

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

So, I can already tell you, unless the rest of my reading year is FANTASTIC, this will most certainly be in my top five books for the year. I adored it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think my preference for historic fiction, especially classic retellings, has been made pretty obvious over the past few years. As I have said, if there are lace parasols and boys in suspenders, I’m ready to read. From the second I saw this book’s blurb, I was ready to read it, literally counting the weeks. And, thankfully, I was not at all disappointed!

This was a wonderful retelling of Dicken’s classic, that (even though I haven’t read Oliver Twist in awhile) gave some very obvious tips of the hat to the original. I felt that it was a very strong and honorable follow up to Dicken’s original, fulfilling the most important goal of retelling (in my opinion): exposing a new generation to the works of greats! Overall, the plot was very clever, and genuinely kept me captivated.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat with Olivia at the, sometimes incredibly stressful, climaxes of the plot, and I was cheering along with an adorable romance. Honestly, it’s been awhile since I have read such a seamless and captivating romance that actually added to the plot, rather than just being fan service. Olivia and Jack had a wonderful dynamic and history that allowed the classic novel to play along with this new story. The writing was unique and fast-paced and held my attention until the last page. Which, side note, the ending was everything I needed and more. I haven’t come across a stand-alone in so long that held so much plot and character development, and still managed to wrap everything up so beautifully.

This book was wonderful, and I hope you give it a chance!

4.5 out of 5 stars.


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