Friday, September 23, 2016

“Dead Man’s Reach” – Historical Fantasy in Colonial Boston

I recently finished Dead Man’s Reach by D.B. Jackson, the fourth book in his Thieftaker series. The book turned out to be another excellent installment in Jackson’s historical fantasy tale set in Colonial Boston. Here’s my review.


The story presents another mystery for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker whose job involves hunting down thieves and retrieving the stolen goods for his clients. Kaille, however, is also a conjurer, or “speller” in the world of these books, who can wield magic by summoning a ghost-like spectral guide. And it’s within the realm of magic that the novel’s mystery unfolds.

The Colonial Boston setting is one of the things I love most about the series, and this time the story takes us through the events of the Boston Massacre in March of 1770. Tensions are smoldering between the British soldiers occupying Boston and the citizens who oppose them, including Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But when the protests begin turning violent, Kaille discovers that a conjurer is using magic to fan the flames. Even more, he suspects the conjurer may be one of his old foes – one that Kaille thought he had put in the grave.

The mystery drives the story, but it’s the history and the characters that make this such a fun read. All the regulars are back: rival thieftaker Sephira Pryce, his girlfriend Kannis, Kelf the bartender, his good friend Diver, and all the real historical characters who lived during this time like Sam Adams. But my favorite among them is Kaille. In fact, after four books Ethan Kaille is becoming one of the iconic characters of historical and fantasy fiction, like Roland Deschain, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, and Elric of Melniboné.

The story’s villain hits Kaille close to home in this book, and for a moment I feared we were headed toward the end of this series. But after the last chapter, I don’t think that’s the case. Jackson has been slowly building his tale toward the Revolutionary War, and Paul Revere is already a minor character. I really hope we get to experience Revere’s Midnight Ride before the series ends, and if so, I’ll bet Ethan Kaille will be right in the thick of it.

Thanks to Amazon you can read a preview of the book here.

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