Book Reviews

Fagin's Boy (Oliver & Jack 1) by Jackie North at Blue Rain Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 13-May-2022

Book Blurb

In 1846 London, respectable young men do not fall for street thieves. This is the love story of Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger.


Oliver Twist has one desire: to own a bookshop and live a simple, middle-class life, far away from his workhouse-shadowed past. One thing stands in his way: Jack Dawkins--The Artful Dodger--who's just returned to London and is looking for Fagin’s old gang.


Jack's visits cause Oliver nothing but trouble, but he finds himself drawn, time and again, to their shared past, Jack's unguarded honesty, and those bright, green eyes.


Oliver craves respectability, which he won’t find with a forbidden love. Can Jack convince Oliver that having one doesn't mean losing the other?



First edition published by Blue Rain Press under the title and author pseudonym 'Fagin’s Boy: The Further Particulars of a Parish Boy’s Progress by Christina E. Pilz', January 2014.


Book Review

“The bad news is nothing lasts forever. The good news is nothing lasts forever.” ~ J. Cole

 

Oliver Twist, of 'Fagin’s Boy’ by Jackie North, has had many ups and downs in his life. Oliver's situation improves dramatically when a kind upper-class gentleman, Mr. Brownlow, takes him in. But when Mr. Brownlow dies, it leaves him at the mercy of Mr. Grimwig, “Uncle” Brownlow's best friend, who never lets Oliver forget his unfortunate past.

 

After his guardian's funeral, Oliver meets Mr. McCready, owner of a haberdashery. Mr. McCready offers him an apprentice position in his shop. Earning his own money is an appealing prospect and provides an opportunity to get away from the negativity of Mr. Grimwig, so Oliver accepts. Working as an apprentice is more challenging than Oliver has had for a while now, but it still has its benefits like delicious meals and a weekly paycheck. Things are going well until Jack shows up. McCready does not like his looks and warns Oliver to stay away from him, but Jack keeps showing up despite Oliver's efforts to dissuade him. Eventually, it ends up in a beating for Oliver because McCready thinks he deliberately disobeyed his orders. Oliver resents his punishment and changes his opinion of his master, but the last straw is McCready's treatment of a workhouse boy he employed.

 

When Oliver turns up looking for Jack of his own volition, Jack knows something is very wrong. As he did in the past, Jack takes Oliver under his wing. It's a culture shock for Oliver, who has lived in comparative luxury for the past five years. Jack's place and Jack are filthy. There's no water to wash up or fire to warm him and the available food and drink are substandard. Yet Oliver is in no position to complain. However, he is adamant that he is not a thief and refuses to steal, which causes problems for him with Jack's boss. Oliver begins to realize that his feelings for Jack go beyond gratitude and border on physical desire as time goes by. Jack is more than receptive to his advances when Oliver acts upon them. But Oliver knows that he can't stay in London if he is to have any future, he also realizes that Jack will never go with him.

 

‘Fagin’s Boy’ is an adaptation of ‘Oliver Twist’. It sticks relatively closely to the original. Jackie has done an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Dickens’s writing style, including the characters and stark contrasts between classes in the Victorian Era. In the original story, Jack and Oliver were best friends, so it's not a huge stretch to imagine them as lovers. Thanks, Jackie, for bringing Jack and Oliver together in a different, happier light.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book was purchased by the reviewer.

 

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 550 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 19-April-2022
Price $4.99 ebook, $18.99 paperback
Buy Link https://www.amazon.com/Fagins-Boy-Historical-Romance-Oliver-ebook/dp/B09QK9BKMC