Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review: Thieftaker

Augh, sorry this is late, I started writing this early yesterday but then got hit with a headache that could've felled an ox and decided to just go to bed early instead of staying awake (and in pain) trying to finish this. I will try to get today's regular post up as well although that will be up closer to the usual time.

Tor.com put up a short excerpt for this book a few months ago and when I had a chance to win an ARC I jumped on it. And then, continuing with my recent pattern, it took a while for me to get around to actually reading it since I had so much checked out from the libraries and enough homework to fill up all the time I had between classes. But eventually I found the time and this makes the third historical-novel-with-fantasy-elements I've read this year, can't tell if that counts as branching out for me or not. 


Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson



Summary: Ethan Kallie has an unusual job in pre-Revolutionary War Boston, he's a thieftaker and uses magic to hunt down thieves for his clients. He tries to not advertise the fact that he can use magic but when he's hired for a murder case it seems like everyone already knows his secret and that if he doesn't use magic he'll never figure out the killer.

The Good: In my copy (an ARC) there was a note on one of the early pages which I think said that there would be a map in the published edition which I think is a great idea. I've been to Boston just once and a lot of times during the book found myself wanting a map so I could figure out where everyone was, especially since they were using real locations in the story. The concept of magic here is interesting and works, my main worry had been that the magic would be so flashy that it would be unbelievable that this world had followed the exact same history as our world had with that giant difference. However the book made clear that magic users had by and large always stayed hidden (lest they be burned as witches) and for me that made the setting work which had been my biggest fear going into it. 

The Bad: Despite the fact that the opening excerpt Tor posted really grabbed me I was just, well, bored with this book by the end. I feel like it was wavering between becoming really dark and being less dark, and trying to decide just how much it wanted to use real historical characters. I didn't like Ethan as much by the end (honestly after seeing so many anime with a character going "oh god two girls like me what do I doooooo?" I have a much lower tolerance for that, especially when the character in question is an adult man who should be able to figure out what to do with his life) and just felt like the entire climax was awkward, not tense. All in all it doesn't make me very excited for the next book, I probably won't look for it at all.


So sadly a dud and I'll try to toss it in my library's free pile soon and hope that whoever gets it next enjoys it much more than me. Giving it 2.5 stars out of 5 and I'm hoping that I'll have a chance to read one more piece of historical fiction this year and that I'll enjoy it more.  

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