Thieves’ Quarry by D. B. Jackson
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Plus Bonus Points for Gorgeous Cover
Thieves’ Quarry is the second book in the Thieftaker Chronicles, and it is even better than the first one, Thieftaker, was. D. B. Jackson has done a first-rate job of writing historical fiction with an Urban Fantasy slant, and it makes for a lot of fun reading.
The hero of the book, Ethan Kaille, is a thieftaker by trade (a sort of Early American bounty hunter), and a conjurer by birth. He can work magic spells by various means, most often using blood (his own), which is the only thing about the series I’m uncomfortable with. I am not put off by monsters, demons, vampires, werewolves, or Satan’s minions when I’m reading Urban Fantasy, none of which appear in these books, btw. But constantly slashing at one’s own forearm to use the dripping blood for spells just makes me cringe. I’m happier when he is using mullein, grass, rainwater, or wood, myself. However! In this case, I look past the bloody forearm because the rest of the story is so wonderfully entertaining. I just mention it as fair warning to any who are planning to read the series. It will occur. Over and over. But if you just don’t think about that part too long, the rest of the story will pull you in and captivate you.
Set in Boston, just prior to the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Thieftaker Chronicles combine real events and historical figures with the world of magic, and do it seamlessly. It is fascinating to see well-researched events from America’s past interwoven with characters of powerful magic in a way that makes you believe the conjurers were really there, and part of it all.
In the first book, Thieftaker, Ethan was solidly loyal to the Crown, and not very impressed with the likes of Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. In Thieves’ Quarry, as he watches King George’s Redcoats occupy the city, he begins to view things a bit differently. He’s obviously conflicted but beginning to see why so many of the citizens, including the woman he loves, want change. I think this possible evolution from Loyalist to Patriot is being portrayed very realistically. After all, if you were born in England, served in the British military, and had always considered yourself subject to the Crown, it would very likely look like treason to take a stand against British control, at least initially. But the times, they are a-changing, and I suspect Ethan will eventually be swept up in the cause, though that is by no means certain at this point.
Conjurers on both the side of Good and the side of Evil battle things out with varying degrees of disastrous results throughout Thieves’ Quarry, and though the main mystery isn’t totally impossible to figure out, there are enough possibilities to keep you from being certain where the largest portion of guilt lies. Ethan’s ongoing nemesis, Sephira Pryce, is always involved in the mix, though having no magic herself, she is often not the perpetrator of the latest offense. However, it would appear that Sephira is going to have even more power at her disposal in the future, having added her own conjurer to the payroll. A good set-up for the next book, I’m thinking.
Ethan makes a likable, though flawed, hero, who usually manages to save the day, but not without taking some pretty bad hits along the way. I like that he is middle-aged and plagued with aches and pains acquired over a lifetime of hardship. His habit of barely escaping one attack with his life, only to go wandering around the dark streets paying no attention to who or what might be following him makes me wonder if his brains aren’t a bit damaged, as well as his bad leg. But he’s still a man you want to root for, and the books overall, are definitely a different take on Urban Fantasy. Well done, D. B. Jackson! I am eager to read Number Three!
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