Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

The Good Thief is a great, shocking adventure that's written like a fairy tale, and is as unsettling as any stories from the brothers Grimm. Hannah Tinti's style is smooth and light, deceptively so: the reader is drawn into her unsettling world and can't stop reading.

Ren is an orphan in Colonial New England. He has, mysteriously, only one hand, as the other has been taken off and the wound stitched carefully. He knows his name by the cloth that was with him when he was pushed through the monks' gate at the monastery, a bit of cloth that had embroidered on it three letters: R E N.

In his twelfth year, a stranger, Benjamin Nab, comes to the monastery looking for his brother, and when he finds Ren, with his one hand, the stranger tells the monks a fantastic story about Indian kidnappings and Ren's doomed mother chopping off his hand to keep him from being taken. The monks send the boy away with Nab, who soon reveals that he is a liar and a grave robber.

The characters and city settings of this fascinating tale are very much, as others have said, in the style of Dickens, as is the moral dilemma of Ren, the good boy who must become a thief to survive.

Ren must also endure many horrors, and meet many wonderful and loathesome characters, from a chimney climbing dwarf to the deaf and loving Mrs. Sand, to the dentists who buy dead people's teeth--what amazing adventures he will have before the satisfying ending.

The Good Thief is a fine and vivid three-hundred page fairy tale that's considered young adult reading--I suppose young people, now used to vampire love and lust, will find grave-robbing light reading. I think it's a great, bloody, robust book for grownups, too.

B&N link

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