CSFF Blog Tour: The Charlatan’s Boy

(Note: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

It’s a sad day in Corenwald when no one believes in feechies anymore. Specifically, it’s a sad day for Floyd Wendellson and his boy, Grady. The paying crowds pay them no longer. After making a living for years by pretending to be a feechie expert and genuine feechie boy, they may have to get legitimate jobs.

Ha ha! I’m kidding, of course. What they do next is put up the Ugliest Boy in the World act. As the bad new days run on into years, they make a daring bid to bring back the good old days. Their scheme is unethical and there has to be some sort of law against it, but what do you expect from the charlatan and his boy?

A huckster and his assistant are unlikely stars for a fantasy novel. Their duplicity – so consistent and central – puts them out of any category of noble heroes. Yet they can hardly be inducted into the Hall of Villains. They’re certainly underhanded, but after a long line of necromancers, usurpers, evil kings and evil knights … Well, two showmen trying to turn a pretty penny with a fake feechie show simply don’t fit in. Both Floyd and Grady are in their way good characters, even deep characters. In what way that is – well, the reader will spend the book discovering.

Jonathan Rogers delivers his story in appropriate style. The book is filled with humor, much of it the sort that is seen by the readers and not the characters. It’s written in first-person, and as you can imagine, a charlatan’s boy will not have the most educated voice. Though to be fair, almost no one in the book does. The editor either had a hard or wonderfully easy time of it, depending on whether she tried to distinguish real grammar errors from style or simply decided it was all one.

The Charlatan’s Boy reminds me of the old-school episodic novel – Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Penrod, Mark Twain. The main issues of the book are set up at the beginning and steadily – if not urgently – addressed. Yet, lingering over drovers’ fires and doing the phrenology routine, even parts that advance the plot often feel anecdotal. The anecdotes were entertaining, well-told, and even charming. But as they followed one on another I began wondering when the next shoe would finally fall on somebody.

I would, however, do a disservice to this book if I made it sound as if it went nowhere. It did go somewhere, and the climax and conclusion were marvelous. I appreciated the humor and the lightheartedness of the story, and I appreciated the prickles of sadness that suddenly pierced through. Jonathan Rogers handled this expertly: The moments were brief, scattered, and went straight to my heart. It’s a strange thing, but stories and characters need just a little sadness to be deep. Rogers put that sadness in.

I enjoyed The Charlatan’s Boy. Since finishing it I have picked it up to enjoy it again. And I don’t think I’m done, either.

I will be posting again about The Charlatan’s Boy tomorrow. If you want to learn more about the book, check out these links:

The Charlatan’s Boy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0307458229
Jonathan Rogers’ web site: http://jonathan-rogers.com/

And see what the other participants in the blog tour have to say about The Charlatan’s Boy:

Sally Apokedak
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Katie Hart
Bruce Hennigan
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner

Jeff Chapman
Julie

Carol Keen
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Donita K. Paul
SarahFlan
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

8 thoughts on “CSFF Blog Tour: The Charlatan’s Boy

  1. An outstanding review, Shannon. You’ve given just enough of the story to entice, enough critique to caution readers, enough praise to validate reading the book or perhaps making it a keeper. I’m looking forward to what else you’ll have to say.

    Becky

  2. Shannon, this is a fantastic and very insightful review. Thanks. As I wrote the book, I was concerned about its anecdotal, picaresque structure. You should have seen how anecdotal it was a month or two before I turned it in to the copyeditor! But in the end I was okay with a little meandering. I like that kind of story, and in the end that’s the only way I know to judge my own writing–whether or not I like it. I love your insight, “The main issues of the book are set up at the beginning and steadily – if not urgently – addressed.” Precisely. A reader who has to have urgency from beginning to end ought to know.

    Like Becky, I look forward to seeing what else you have to say.

    Best,
    JR

  3. Thanks, Becky! I thought The Charlatan’s Boy was a good book, but I hope to help other people know whether or not it’s to their taste.

  4. But in the end I was okay with a little meandering. I like that kind of story, and in the end that’s the only way I know to judge my own writing–whether or not I like it.

    “Write what you like” sounds like a good rule, up there with “Write what you know.” A lot of other people will like The Charlatan’s Boy, too. And the readers who want action, action, action – like you said, it’s best they understand what type of story this is.

    Thank you for your compliments on the review.

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