cover image The Haunting of Charles Dickens

The Haunting of Charles Dickens

Lewis Buzbee, illus. by Greg Ruth, Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-38256-8

Buzbee (Steinbeck's Ghost) pens a charming and gripping tale that is, at its heart, a love letter to Charles Dickens. The scene is 1862 London, at which point Dickens has achieved fame. He is a close friend of the family that operates a print shop he frequents ("The famous Mr. Dickens seemed a wholly other person from the one who used to bring Meg boxes of Turkish Delight"). Meg's older brother, Orion, has been missing for six months when the book opens; haunted by his disappearance and having difficulty sleeping (something she has in common with Dickens), Meg teams up with the author, and the unlikely pair investigate Orion's disappearance and gather ideas for a novel. Their adventures take them from the city streets to underground bars and grim workhouses. Buzbee creates solid characters (and certainly has fun naming them, as did Dickens) and an authentic flavor of Dickensian London, enhanced by Ruth's striking and evocative b&w drawings (not all seen by PW), while addressing issues of feminism, the search for identity, and child abuse. Ages 10–14. (Oct.)