Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson
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.
Ethan Kaille (which kept reminding me of Nathan Hale, rhyming the name and this taking place just before the Revolutionary War) is a talented detective. As a “thieftaker” Ethan tracks thieves and brings them to justice, with the added help of his natural gift for spells. Unfortunately, pre-revolutionary America was not a time for wanting to be accused of being a witch, so Ethan has to keep his abilities as secret as possible. I loved this character. He’s brave and honest, with a good heart and a hard past. You would think that the hero of a pre-revolutionary story would be a patriot, but instead his political ties remain with the British. At least for now. Ethan is a fascinating character with an incredible past I’m eager to read more about.
The author does an impressive job of weaving fantasy into historical fiction, and even introduces a few familiar names from history during the Stamp Act from American history. The magic itself is a bit confusing, as most has to be conjured from blood and verbalized in Latin – yet not always. I would have liked to see more explanation behind all of this. With plenty of adventure, mystery, magic, drama, and thrills – genre fans won’t want to miss this one. Thieftaker is a fantastic series debut that I can’t wait to see continue.