Dickens meets Steampunk. That’s the first line in the description of A Twist in Time, the latest novel by Brent A. Harris. I mean seriously, what more do you want? Why yes, sir, I would like some more. (And by that, I mean I clicked the “Buy” button.)
Brent A. Harris is a talented writer of alternate history, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. He first grabbed my attention with A Time of Need, an AH tale where George Washington fights for the British. Harris has a unique talent for intriguing premises, so I was instantly hooked by a time-traveling adventure featuring Oliver Twist.
This story focuses on a grown-up Oliver trying to save a group of orphans who have vanished from his old workhouse. With the help of tinkerer Nell Trent, he sets out to solve the mystery by use of a pocket watch that allows him to travel through time. The pacing is very good and hooks the reader from a fiery first chapter. From there, it gallops through tense encounters and gripping action while trying to dodge the Artful Dodger (rimshot).
Harris also has a talent for dialogue. The period speak is very effective without bogging down the reader. All too often, period pieces can leave the reader scratching their head while the narrator carries on to the next section. Not so here. Harris guides the reader through each scene while allowing them to intuit meaning from the tone. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, and the author seems to strike it with ease. It’s quite apparent that a lot of care and research went into this novel. In addition, the quirks and traits of each character are clearly defined in their speech. As a result, many exchanges between Oliver/Nell and Oliver/Dodger stick out as highlights of the book.
The use of humor is subtle and sharp. Some of Oliver’s random one-liners actually made me laugh out loud. I also enjoyed the Groundhog Day approach to time travel, especially during pivotal scenes. There is a very clever twist (rimshot x2) hidden within the plot device, which I found to be an effective and rewarding reveal.
Overall, A Twist in Time is a delightful tale with a lot of heart. Harris has managed to give even more depth to these beloved Dickens characters, an impressive feat that should be cherished and celebrated. I really enjoyed this book and can recommend it to any and all readers. There is something for everyone, so sit back and strap in for a satisfying adventure.