Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: The Charlatan's Boy

By Jonathan Rogers

Grady (no last name) has grown up working for Floyd in the “performing” business, though the performing they do would be better described as swindling.  Grady happens to be one of the ugliest boys in the world, so the first performance they try is passing the boy off as a genuine He-Feechie from the Fechiefen Swamps, and Grady relishes the act.  The Feechies are a mythical race of swamp people that worry townsfolk because they suspect that Feechies are plotting to murder them in their beds.  However, as people stop believing in Feechies, the performance opportunities dwindle.  Floyd and Grady try several other performance trades but ultimately decide that they need to revive the Feechie trade by manufacturing a Feechie scare, which has unexpected results.

In The Charlatan’s Boy, Rogers spins a yarn of fantasy on a mythical island that could easily have taken place in America’s late 19th early 20th century.  The illusion is enhanced by Rogers’ writing style, which as one critic points out, is very similar to Mark Twain, including Twain’s innate sense of humor.  The combination of humor and fantasy is a hard pairing to pull off, but Rogers makes it seem easy. 

There isn’t much on the spiritual side of things, though the book does discuss the morality of dishonesty quite often.  Grady is always questioning his trade of swindling people through dishonest means, but he never questions it quite enough to stop, and though he does get roughed up on occasion, there’s not a lot of repercussions for the things he does. The ending promises a sequel, and I hope that we will see some development of Grady’s moral character in the books to come.

Overall, the book is a fun, captivating read that I definitely recommend.

A free review copy was received from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

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