(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:
And see what the other participants in the blog tour have to say about The Charlatan’s Boy:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Donita K. Paul