Review of A Plunder of Souls by D.B. Jackson (Tor hardcover, July 8, 2014)
This is the third novel in the Thieftaker Chronicles. We are back in Boston of 1769 where a minor smallpox epidemic has hit; enough people are sick that there are houses in every neighborhood with illness, but not so many as to overflow the hospital.
Ethan is called upon by the local minister to investigate a case of grave desecration, but it soon becomes clear that more is going on because shades of the dead are hanging around their last places of residence and not passing on. In most cases the shades have the same type of damage as their desecrated bodies.
Ethan’s relationships with Kannice, Janna and Sephira continue to change and mature. Janna meets both the other women in Ethan’s life in this book and those encounters are both very enlightening. As Ethan ages and continues to get beaten up for doing his job, getting another type of employment looks better and better.
The difficulties faced by all the conjurers in this volume lead them to understand their relationship with their ghost helpers better and to understand where the power for conjuring comes from. Also some of the things other conjurers have done in previous volumes are figured out by Ethan and his friends when they have to face the big bad guy. The bad guy is so bad that even Sheriff Greenleaf puts aside his prejudices to focus on the problem, instead of on Ethan.
Ethan and the reader have a much better understanding of magic use in the Thieftaker world after this volume. The places, historical persons and events all make this setting feel very alive. If you like urban fantasy (and this definitely has an urban feel despite being set in 1769), or historical fiction of any sort, then you should read this series.
D.B. Jackson will be signing at the Book Knack in Rock Hill, South Carolina at 6:00 p.m. on July 14, the Gastonia Books-a-Million on July 15 at 6:30 p.m. along with Faith Hunter and A.J. Hartley. He will also be in Raleigh on July 21 at Quail Ridge Books (at 7:30 p.m.).