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Sweeney Todd or The String of Pearls (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) [Paperback]

4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Aug 2007 Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural
The String of Pearls - the original tale of Sweeney Todd, a classic of British horror - was first published as a weekly serial in 1846-7 by Edward Lloyd, the King of the Penny Dreadfuls. One of the earliest detective stories, it became an important source for Bram Stoker's Dracula. After 157 years of obscurity, it appears here for the first time in book form. This edition is no longer available, and has been replaced by 9781840226324

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (10 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840224835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840224832
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
BEFORE FLEET STREET HAD REACHED its present importance, and when George the Third was young, and the two figures who used to strike the chimes at old St Dunstan's church were in all their glory -being a great impediment to errand-boys on their progress, and a matter of gaping curiosity to country people - there stood close to the sacred edifice a small barber's shop, which was kept by a man of the name of Sweeney Todd.' Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Classic 28 July 2005
By A Customer
At last someone has brought out a new edition of The String of Pearls! Everybody knows who Sweeney Todd was, but up to now the book itself has been something that even people like me, with a University library at my disposal, could only read about. Now everyone can read it. And what a read! Even though (OF COURSE) I knew the end of the story from long ago, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book. And there are some genuine (if rather cruel) laughs in it. If Matthew Lewis had been a Dickens fan, or if Ann Radcliffe had had a sense of fun, they would have written this. It is a first-rate horror story and -- like the excellent introduction says -- of first rate importance in the history of horror. No-one should give this book a miss. It's delicious!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and readable 2 Sep 2008
By Rolby
Although the style is of its time, it is well written and still very readable. The short introduction is fascinating and reveals the authors as copyright cowboys often just one step ahead of the police (with works such as "Nickelas Nickelberry"). The plot is patchy and has a lot of false leads, probably resulting from more than one author, and from padding required to fill each magazine episode. Several characters seem to be important, but then fade out of the story, and the significance of the pearls to the plot is variable. Overall, though, Todd keeps the continuity, and holds the reader hooked.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 27 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is hard to imagine these days how a penny dreadful story must have gripped the nation in the mid-nineteenth century. When 'The String of Pearls' was being written none of the writers knew that they were going to make literary history. 157 years after it was last published it is now back in print, giving the true tale of Sweeney Todd.

This story has become so famous today that it has entered our folklore. I have even seen a picture of where Sweeny Todd's barber shop was - not bad for a fictional character.

This book will enthrall you with its story as it did the reading public who first saw it. We all know the basic story of Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett's pie shop, but reading this book you will find that there is so much more to it. After all this is sensation fiction at its best, and Sweeney Todd is just one of the characters that inhabits its pages in this fast-paced and frenetic tale. There is nothing to dislike about this book, except possibly in the actual story being perhaps a bit too short.

If you love a good read you can't go wrong by buying this book and finding out the true, original, and best telling of Sweeney Todd and those infamous pies.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Dracula 12 Sep 2005
By A Customer
I absolutely loved this book. I'd vaguely heard of it before, but never really hoped to read it, and now it's in print for 1.50!!. I read it in three nights - it's very atmospheric - it's brilliant - it's better than Frankenstein and Dracula!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes your skin crawl 20 Jan 2008
By dwaas76
Like many other people I'd vaguely heard about Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Along with a vague idea of the plot that name and nickname was more or less the sum of my knowledge, so when I saw this book I picked it out on a whim.

And what a result: this book is a fantastic little horror story. It starts off with a foreword giving background information about the story's origins and the circumstances of it coming out (serialised in so-called 'penny dreadfuls'). It's a very interesting read, and the only complaint I have is that the writer presumes you know the entire story, and thus gives out spoilers. If you're totally new to Sweeny Todd I'd advise you to skip it and read it after you've read the main story.

The main story is told from different angles, mainly focusing on either the people trying to catch the barber, or on the barber himself. I found the bits about the 'bad guys' *much* more interesting - the 'good guys' seemed a bit bland and boring. There are a few side-tales, some of which pad out the background of the story. Quite a few others were probably only meant to let the series go on to another week in the original, and feel a bit out of place now its in book format.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the book was written long before forensics existed as we know it now. This leads to the plot becoming a tad unlikely (even surreal) in places. If you've read stories from this era before you'll be used to it, but people new to it should be ready to put their disbelief to one side when they start reading.

The weaker bits and the spoilers in the foreword drop my rating to 4 stars, but it's an enjoyable book that can genuinely creep you out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original Sweeney Todd 22 Aug 2009
Most will know something of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This book introduces the story of Sweeney Todd, as first read in the mid-19th Century. While it rather lacks the gore one might expect from a renowned horror story such as this, what The String of Pearls instead offers are some very interesting characters, well developed and well written. Complete with a strong plot, if one that ends (with a revealing comment about Mrs Lovett's pies) where most peoples knowledge of the plot begins, nonetheless it is a great story. A classic work of fiction, well worth reading. Despite originating 150 years ago, the text reads surprisingly easily, the style of narration makes it both clear and engaging.
Much overlooked, this is a superb book.
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