In the over-the-top tradition of the old-time penny dreadful, the story of crusading high schooler Todd Sweeney and smart-as-a-whip girlfriend Nellie Lovett unfolds: when vile guidance counselor Ashford Squeers wants to put Todd’s best friend, Toby, in gay conversion camp, Todd swings into action. He just swings a bit too hard. So he calls on lovely Nellie to help clean up the mess. She devises an ingenious way of making the body disappear. But, more threats arise, as they always do. Soon, the police are wondering where Fleet High’s worst are disappearing to. Our friends are on their way to a thrilling denouement that includes blackmail, abduction, nun costumes and a trip across the country before Todd and Nellie must finally leave Toby and his boyfriend to fend for themselves.
I am a big fan of Sweeney Todd, so I was excited when I was granted the opportunity to review Todd Sweeney: The Fiend of Fleet High. This retelling presents a teenage Todd Sweeney whose motive is avenging his gay friend, Toby. Sweeney Todd has always been a deeply political penny dreadful, and I appreciated how David Pratt honored this by considering the challenges that teenagers face in the politics of high school. Pratt took a beloved character and created a tale for him that introduces his story to a new generation, but appeals to adults as well.
David Pratt’s writing format follows the classic vein of a penny dreadful, but I did find that his dialogue could be hard to read at times. He overuses exclamation points, which detracts from the story and made it harder for me to read consistently. While I did love Pratt’s imagination and his ability to recreate a classic story in a new light, I would have liked to see more realistic punctuation to improve reading quality.
Overall, Todd Sweeney: The Fiend of Fleet High is a fun, thrilling ride that appeals to both young adults and adults. David Pratt put his own spin on a classic penny dreadful while honoring the original tone and story. If you are a fan of Sweeney Todd or vengeful teenagers, then Todd Sweeney: The Fiend of Fleet High will be a treat for you.