Series: The Thieftaker Chronicles #3
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Published by Tor on July 8, 2014
Reviewed by: Rick
Implied sexual situations
Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villans and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.
A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille's minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related…but how?
When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster's terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave. Let the battle for souls begin in A Plunder of Souls, the third, stand-alone novel in Jackson's acclaimed Thieftaker series.
When the days of the Salem witch trials have passed, and you happen to be one of a handful of spell casters who survived, what’s an honest witch to do to eek out a livelihood in Boston? Become a freelance private investigator, otherwise known as a “theiftaker” of course! And when a case comes up that no normal person can solve, much less touch, then a spellcaster is clearly what you need. This is the world of A PLUNDER OF SOULS and there is a lot to like about it. There’s a great sense of adventure interweaved with witchcraft skillfully set in the streets, taverns and wharfs of pre-revolutionary war Boston. Unfortunately, there are also a number of flaws that often make this book a bit tedious and detracted from my enjoyment.
One of the better parts of the novel is how Jackson, seemingly effortlessly, proves the depth of his grasp on historical elements, taking us back in time to a place that, on the page, both looks and feels authentic to the mind’s eye. The plot takes some very welcome twists toward the middle of the book that become engrossing through the conclusion. Even when you think you know what is coming next, there are surprises around every corner as if you were hit directly by one of the character’s spells. It is also important to note that, despite A PLUNDER OF SOULS being part of the larger Thieftaker Chronicles series and its world, one could easily read and enjoy this book as a stand alone novel.
Unfortunately, there are also a number of flaws that often make this book a bit tedious. Perhaps most distracting is the hackneyed repetition of certain words and phrases. While it isn’t an unusual thing for an author to employ the use of repetitive device as a method for creating a certain feeling or bringing identity to a certain character, Jackson is guilty of some serious overkill. At this point, I don’t have to ever read any iteration of the word “thrum” again in my life. Another issue is that the main hero is far less intriguing and interesting than the cast of supporting and ancillary characters. To say that Jackson has the ability to create endearing supporting characters would be an understatement. He does such a good job that they often overshadow the hero. It is difficult to tell if this is by intent, (even in the book the hero, Ethan Kaile, doesn’t have many friends or supporters), or if the main character simply lacks the makings of a strong hero figure.
Critical points aside, A PLUNDER OF SOULS was an enjoyable read and should appeal to anyone who particularly enjoys fantasy in a historical setting. If, however, historical elements aren’t your bag, this book might come off feeling much like an extended Scooby Doo mystery with ghosts, witches, pirates, and men in tricorn hats.
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