Book Reviews

On the Isle of Dogs (Oliver & Jack 5) by Jackie North at Blue Rain Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 28-October-2022

Book Blurb

An orphan and his street thief companion return to London, where their love is tested beyond endurance. This is the love story of Oliver Twist and The Artful Dodger.

Rejected by their families, Oliver and Jack brave the dangers they left behind and take residence at the Three Cripples. Their shared bedsit is small and riddled with bed bugs, but what does that matter when there is always cool beer on tap and the diversions of London are spread out before them?

Jack picks pockets while Oliver works in the tavern, struggling against the endless tide of dirt and the loss of everything he thought he stood for.

Amidst their happiness and future plans, Chalenheim kidnaps them, assaults Jack, and leaves them both for dead. Will Oliver and Jack’s love for each other prove stronger than hate?

First edition published under author's pseudonym, Christina E. Pilz, at Blue Rain Press, September 2016. 

Book Review

“My hopes, my wishes, prospects, feeling: every thought in life except my love for you: have undergone a change.” ~’Oliver Twist’ By Charles Dickens


In 'On The Isle of Dogs' by Jackie North, Oliver and Jack settle back in London, where Jack goes back to being a pickpocket, and Oliver tends bar at the tavern. Although their living conditions are not the best, being with each other is worth any price.


Oliver hasn't given up on making amends with the people in his life who he feels he has harmed, and Oliver writes letters in hopes of a reply as well as sending money to the doctor who helped him and Jack when he was ill. Jack can't see the purpose, but he knows it's essential to Oliver. The differences between their backgrounds come up from time to time, but they are learning and growing together as time goes on.


Although Oliver is happy to be with Jack, he yearns for more than being a bartender and living in a dirty room with bedbugs and other less-than-desirable conditions. But he doesn't see a clear path toward achieving it. Oliver tries not to let Jack see how discontent he is, but Jack knows him too well not to notice. He tries to cheer Oliver up by taking him out to do something he might enjoy.


Unfortunately, while Oliver and Jack are out, they run into Chalenheim, the workmaster at Axminster Workhouse. He drugs and takes them to a ship's wreck, where he sadistically assaults Jack and makes Oliver watch. It horrifies Oliver to learn that his good intentions in repaying the doctor are how Chalenheim learned of Oliver and Jack's location. They manage to get away before the ship sinks, but knowing that Oliver has seen him in that condition, Jack can't bear it. He withdraws to the point that Oliver isn’t sure he will be able to get him back. But he will try his best because the thought of life without Jack is unbearable.


What Oliver and Jack went through in 'On the Isle of Dogs' made me cry. Watching these characters I've become attached to hurt in such a violent, sadistic way, was intense, almost unbearable. I wanted to scream: "Haven't they been through enough?" Fortunately, the book ended with a glimmer of hope I’m clinging to for dear life. Thanks, Jackie. I'm interested in how you will work this all out.




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


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 481 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 23-August-2022
Price $4.99 ebook, $18.99 paperback
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