July 24, 2012

Book Review: Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson


D.B. Jackson has created an astonishing world in Thieftaker, the first in a series of novels centered on Ethan Kaille, a disgraced sailor and former prisoner now working as a thieftaker--hunting down stolen merchandise for citizens of colonial Boston. But Ethan is also a conjurer, a fact he tries to hide because 1765 is the wrong time to admit to using dark magic in New England.

Ethan is mostly content with his lot--grateful to have been released from slave labor in Barbados and enjoying a comfortable relationship with a local tavern owner. He's intrigued, though, by a request to find a brooch for wealthy merchant Abner Berson. Berson's daughter Jennifer was killed in the confusion when revolutionary radicals attacked the home of leading British officials; Berson wants Ethan to find her missing brooch, while quietly looking into her death. When he agrees, Ethan suddenly finds himself in danger on all fronts--from Sephira Price, the most powerful thieftaker in Boston; from those who fear his magic; and from a mysterious conjurer he suspects is Jennifer's murderer.

The beginning of Thieftaker is a little slow, as Jackson fleshes out Ethan's complicated past and explains how the conjuring works, but it quickly picks up to a pace that's almost dizzying as Ethan crisscrosses Boston, repeatedly being attacked by the various people out to get him. The clever blend of history, mystery and fantasy makes this a book not to be missed.

I really liked the urban fantasy part of this - and I think that Jackson fairly seamlessly blended the magic into a historically accurate view of Boston. It was also a pretty interesting mystery - I was curious to see if Ethan would be able to solve the crime. What irked me were the names, and how often Ethan got attacked. But I realize that I'm obsessed with names, and that maybe in the small-town Boston of the era you would keep running into the same bad guys over and over, and they'd just keep assaulting you again and again, so those are rather minor quibbles I guess. (But really, Ethan Kaille? How do you say that? Like the Spanish calle? Kall-ee? Kale? And Ethan's love interest was named Kannice. Kannice?!)

Rating: 3 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Maybe. There's some sex and violence, but nothing too graphic.
I was provided this book by Shelf Awareness and a version of this review originally appeared there. The book image is an affiliate link.

Do you like urban fantasy? How would YOU pronounce Kaille?