It is 1767 and rebellion is on the horizon. There is a great deal of unrest between the American Colonies and the British Crown. In the midst of this unrest, a young girl is murdered without a mark left on her body. That’s where Ethan Kaille, thief-taker and conjurer, comes in. It is believed that the girl was killed by magic, and only Kaille has the talents to solve the mystery.
D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker is an interesting twist on urban fantasy. Not only is it set in the past, Ethan Kaille is a departure from the normal female protagonist of the genre. He is not a superhero, or even really that powerful. Kaille makes mistakes, gets scared, gets beat up, and does a lot of things that he regrets. He is, however, a good man; a man that does not give up, and does the job because he is the only one who can. You might call Ethan Kaille the Harry Dresden of Colonial America.
It was that kind of character development that was a big draw for me. Most of the characters, even the minor ones, have a fleshed-out life to them. Except for Sephira Price, Kaille’s rival in thief-taking. She doesn’t mesh well with the other characters, nor does she seem to fit the time period. I know she is to be a foil to Kaille’s morality, but she comes off as petty and sniveling instead of feared and evil.
All in all, Thieftaker brings together various genres. It was fun to see characters like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty pop up and have a fairly significant role in the story. Mix that with a murder mystery and a resourceful (if simple) form of magic, and you have a very entertaining story.
You may also want to check out D.B. Jackson’s short story, A Spell of Vengeance, set before the events of Thieftaker.