Author: D.B. Jackson
Genre: historical fantasy
Length: 327 pages
Where Word Nerd’s Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Plot Basics: In pre-Revolutionary war Boston, thieftaker and conjurer Ethan Kaille is hired by a wealthy merchant to find out how his daughter truly died. As Ethan investigates, others in the city from powerful rival thieftaker Sephira Price to the Sons of Liberty and those still loyal to the Crown take objection to his pursuit of the truth. But Ethan won’t give up, especially in the face of threats, and goes up against powerful, conspiring forces to find the truth.
Banter Points: Thieftaker is a bit like the Dresden Files meets Johnny Tremain, combining magical crime solving with the Revolutionary War. At first, it sounds like a strange combination, but it works and I’m already looking forward to the sequel.
Ethan can cast some spells, though he admits he’s not the strongest conjurer he could be. He’s got a checkered past that we haven’t learned the whole of, but know that it cost him years pressed into service in sugar plantations, part of his foot and his first love. He’s a man unsure of the changes coming to Boston and who just wants to keep a low profile as the church isn’t very fond of spellers.
In the author’s note, it mentions that someone suggested setting the story in Boston instead of a made-up world and that was a great suggestion. While the historicity is altered somewhat for the story, it’s far more accessible to a reader because pages aren’t spent dropping a reader into the history and politics of a new world. We all know, at least the basics, of Boston before the Revolution.
Bummer Points: Every time Ethan casts a spell, it’s in Latin, followed by a translation. It gets kind of tiresome and repetitive because Ethan continues to use the same spells throughout the book (sort of like Harry Dresden here with his small repertoire of combat spells!)
Word Nerd Recommendation: A fun read. The fantasy isn’t overwhelming and the history feels fairly authentic.
Bonus News: The Word Nerds will be hosting D.B. Jackson in mid-October for a Q&A. Be sure to come back!