Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
I have admired this book for some months, loving the beautiful cover art by my favorite, Chris McGrath, but I kept thinking I probably wouldn’t enjoy the story. Maybe too many things converging in one book: magic, history of the American colonies, thieves and murderers. Hmmm. For some reason, it sounded like it might be an awful mish-mash, so I ignored it, but after reading a 5-star review on DLF Writing, I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m really glad I did. (Thanks, David.)
I found Thieftaker to be a very solidly written story with an unusual take on magic, or conjuring. The setting, Boston just before the events that would change the history of the Colonies, was unusual for this type of book, yet everything fit together perfectly. It was fun to read the names of historical men from the American Revolution (Samuel Adams & others) mixed into the secretive world of magic.
I enjoyed the hero, Ethan Kaille, who is a sort of magical bounty hunter. He was believable and likable, without being the typical romanticized lead in books of this genre. (I’m going to call it Urban Fantasy, even if the “urban” part is more than 200 years old.) All the elements fit together nicely, and if there would have been a bit less cutting involved, I would have added at least another half point to my rating. Yeah, I know, the blood is what let Ethan conjure, but geesh. The slicing of the forearms was really reaching a high ick factor with me. (Couldn’t he have just stuck a fingertip with a pin or something?)
Blood or no blood, I really enjoyed the book, and I’m looking forward to reading the second in the series, Thieves’ Quarry. Maybe we’ll get all the way to the Boston Tea Party in that one. I’ll be interested in seeing which side Ethan comes down on as the Revolution progresses. So far, he considers himself an Englishman, and is trying to ignore the growing tension over the heavy taxes imposed by the Crown, but I can’t imagine any man living in Boston during these events and not making a stand, one way or the other.
If you like books on magic, conjuring, a bit of political intrigue, a bit of early American history, and an interesting, self-effacing, 40-ish hero, who really doesn’t want to draw attention to himself, you might want to give Thieftaker a try. It’s well worth the read.
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