New release: The Sparkler from Alan Humm and Vine Leaves Press


Congratulations to Alan Humm and Vine Leaves Press on the release of The Sparkler, a work of historical fiction in which Charles Dickens becomes immersed in an affair so all-consuming that his life begins to fall apart. 

★★★★★ “A dark hymn to pre-Victorian London in all its grotty glory.” ~Nick Perry, author of The Loop

The Sparkler

NEW RELEASE: May 28, 2024
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback: $17.99
Ebook: $5.99  

Charles Dickens is a newly famous author and a man who has only just married. He thinks that he is about to become a father.

Why, then, does he go wandering London after dark and why, under the influence of a famous clown, does he begin an affair with Sarah, a barmaid who works in a North London pub?

While his own descriptions of sex barely exist, he becomes immersed in an affair so all-consuming that his life begins to fall apart. He takes to drink, he develops a liking for rough company, he even steals a necklace. Where will it end?

During a Christmas entertainment held in his own house, Dickens, Sarah, and his wife edge towards a confrontation that has the potential to ruin him for ever.

If you enjoyed Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, Jack Maggs by Peter Carey, Underworld by Don DeLillo, or Sway by Zachary Lazar, you will love The Sparkler.

Praise for The Sparkler
★★★★★ “This is absolutely terrific—thoroughly steeped in Dickens’s own idioms and ideas while also taking a step back and coolly assessing them from a distance. It’s...reminiscent (in a good way) of the rich period atmospheres generated by those two neo-Victorian Peters, Ackroyd and Carey.” ~Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, author of Becoming Dickens

★★★★★ “A remarkable Dickens-fi debut.” ~Philip Hoare, author of Albert and the Whale

★★★★★ “A work of sublime psychogeography.” ~Nick Perry, author of November Dead List and The Loop

About the Author
Alan Humm edits the arts journal One Hand Clapping. He has also written two collections of poetry: A Brief and Biased History of Love (Culture Matters) and My Father is Calling the Neighbours Names. The Sparkler is his first novel. His second novel, Rough Music, follows a journalist and a Labour politician from 1945 to the early noughties, and he is currently writing a book about an ’80s pop band. Learn more at
About the Publisher
Vine Leaves Press likes to blur the line between commercial and experimental works. They publish book-length vignette collections, writing reference books, short story collections, memoir/autobiography, and character-driven novels with a literary bent.​ Subscribe to the Vine Leaves Press newsletter to receive FREE advanced review copies of upcoming new releases, news about their authors and subscribers, and/or to read the monthly opinion column, SPILL IT! or a daily dose of 50-word stories. Learn more at

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