Thieftaker is the debut novel from pseudonymous author D.B. Jackson. It is the first in a series called the Thieftaker Chronicles. It was published July 3rd from Tor Books.
Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.
Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can’t stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see. [Goodreads]
This book was a deviation from my usual stuff. I don’t normally read historical fantasy, but the idea of a thieftaker (and a female antagonist!) was too big of a draw for me. And I’m super glad that I took a chance on this one, because I really enjoyed it.
I found the mystery a little confusing, but that could be because I don’t know a whole lot about Boston’s pre-Revolutionary War days. I had some trouble keeping all of the various players straight, which didn’t really facilitate finding all the little clues. But this could have something to do with my reading before bed. That’s not my sharpest time of the day. I’m not bothered too much by it — I like to be surprised in my reading. I doubt other readers would have this problem with the book; this is simply my unique little difficulty, so don’t base any decisions on this.
What I particularly enjoyed was the fact that the author didn’t use the time period as an excuse to give us weak-willed little fainting ladies. There are two main female characters in this book: the aforementioned antagonist, another thieftaker by the name of Sephira Pryce, and Ethan’s lover, a widowed tavern owner. A more peripheral character is Ethan’s sister, who is also pretty strong-willed for being a seemingly typical colonial wife. All of these are very different fully-developed women characters with their own motivations and goals. We don’t see more than a scene or two with each of them, but there’s enough to give the hope that they’ll be truly awesome in the future!
I also love the addition of magic to the history. It gives things a certain spice that makes them even more compelling. I’m not sure how close to history this story will be as it continues, although the author has said that he’s tried to remain fairly accurate – with the obvious exception of the fact that there were never any thieftakers in America, that is.
This is a solid debut with plenty to offer a reader, and it’s bite-sized enough at only 333 pages (in the hardcover, according to Goodreads) that it won’t take you long to swallow it whole.