Book Review: Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles, #1)

Book Cover from Amazon

Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson


Boston, 1765: 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.



Harry Dresden meets Revolutionary War Boston

I have a new author to add to my faves – D.B. Jackson. The worldbuilding in Thieftaker is superb. Normally I avoid “alternate histories” – the tweaks never follow out to logical conclusions.

Example: The American Revolution inspired the French Revolution. Keep America loyal to British Rule so no American Revolution and jump forward 200 years … what happened in France and does the emperor still rule there and how does that affect France during WWII … do they accept occupation or fight? All of history feeds off itself; you can’t change just one thing.

But this book is not an alternate history, Thieftaker is an urban fantasy set in historical time. Ethan Kaille could be Harry Dresden, if the Chicago wizard lived in Boston just before the revolutionary war.

The characters are real, from the flawed hero to the merchants rivals on the warf. The arguments are urgent from the dreamers driving the country to the brink of revolution to the honest (and not-so-honest) people who just want to make a living and fear changes to the status quo. The scenes are authentic from the riots in the cobblestone street to the country manors of the Crown government. D.B. Jackson does an outstanding job blending his academic background as a historian with his occupation of fantasy author. A reader can immerse in fictional history.

Is the main character likeable? Not always, but I always rooted for him – even when he was being unlikeable. Can’t buy a good tea without paying England her tax, can’t have a good detective without him also being a Dick when interrogating suspects. And that is also part of the excellent worldbuilding.

If you like urban fantasy via detectives, pick up this book.