The Haunting of Charles Dickens
When Meg Pickel’s older brother vanishes from the family’s home in Victorian London, taking his copy of Great Expectations with him, a grieving Meg finally makes up her mind to search for him – and for the book that Meg had been impatiently waiting her turn to read. In her quest, Meg enlists a family friend who is also a regular customer of her family’s print shop – Charles Dickens himself, who, like Meg, is having trouble sleeping at night.
No admirer of Dickens can fail to like a novel that begins with a nod to the opening of Bleak House, and the rest of Buzbee’s novel lives up to its promise. Buzbee’s prose is lively and quirky, his descriptions and characters vivid. His London is duly Dickensian, and is peopled, appropriately, with a number of figures from Dickens’s novels, though they appear here in somewhat different guises. The family printing business is not mere window dressing but is integral to the plot; readers who love the smell of a printed book above all things will appreciate the loving descriptions of the printing process which appear here.
This novel is written for young readers, but I suspect that it is one of those children’s books that will probably appeal more to adults.