D.B. Jackson’s THIEFTAKER — History, With a Spoonful of Magic
Earlier this week, I finished reading THIEFTAKER, by D.B. Jackson. THIEFTAKER is the story of Ethan Kaille, a man who lives in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Ethan is a thieftaker; he’s hired by people who have been the victims of theft, and he’s tasked with retrieving the stolen goods (and, to some extent, with punishing the malfeasors). Oh, and Ethan is a conjurer.
Yeah. Ethan practices magic less than a hundred years after witches were hanged in the exact same colony.
Jackson creates a rich magic system, with distinct flavors for different practitioners. He takes into account the general mix of the colonial population — wealthy Englishmen, hard-working-but-poor colonists, Africans (of course, not yet African-Americans.) THIEFTAKER mixes in a variety of real historic personages — some who stand on stage and have relatively major parts, some who are only mentioned in passing (paging Silversmith Revere!) The novel is filled with unrest — times are changing, and everyone is aware that the world is topsy-turvy.
Jackson is a trained historian (with advanced degrees, and everything!) and his attention to colonial detail is enjoyable. The time period he’s chosen will be familiar-but-different for many readers — this is not “America”, but rather “Colonial Britain”. Ethan identifies as a crown subject, and he questions revolutionary tactics. When I finished reading THIEFTAKER, I spent a fair amount of time online, researching what was real, and what merely seemed real because of Jackson’s storytelling.
So – if you enjoy historical fiction, this is a book for you. If you enjoy action/adventure, check it out. If you like the flavor of magic (with very real costs), then you should read THIEFTAKER.
Mindy, enjoying her summer reading