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Dead Man’s Reach by D. B. Jackson

Dead Man’s Reach by D. B. Jackson
5
Book Name: Dead Man's Reach
Author: D. B. Jackson
Publisher(s): Tor Books
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Historical Fantasy
Release Date: July 21, 2015

The ending of a series is almost always rather sad, but sometimes it is necessary. There are those series that seem to go on for far too long, and what was once wonderful becomes drab and seemingly endless. Then there are those that are cut off before their time, for one reason or another. However, there are also series that end just where they need to, and if they leave their readers wanting more, it’s only because they ended before they could reach the point of interminability.

The Thieftaker series is part of that last set.

I first began reviewing this series when a sibling of mine found the second book in a store and ordered the first from the library. I fell in love with Thieftaker’s blend of history and fantasy, melded together so seamlessly that I felt as though I was rediscovering the American Revolution. Then came Thieves’ Quarry, which provided a wonderful sequel without falling into the trap of having to make the stakes higher with each book. I’d thought A Plunder of Souls to be the last book, as it raised the stakes and brought Ethan Kaille into an unlikely alliance with his nemesis Sephira Pryce.

I’ve never been happier to be wrong about a series being a trilogy. Dead Man’s Reach is the perfect continuation of A Plunder of Souls, and I was in love from the first few chapters. It never once disappointed me, and I’m happy that the series has a proper ending with a most suitable denouement.

The book opens in the same way the other Thieftaker novels do: with Ethan pursuing a thief he has been charged with finding. Unfortunately, as happens so often to him, he has been beaten there by his rival Sephira Pryce, who will claim the reward for capturing the thief. However, things take a strange turn when Gordon, one of Sephira’s hired men, begins attacking the thief without any provocation. It takes two men to pull him away, and Ethan is forced to cast a sleep spell on Gordon to keep him from beating the thief to death. When he wakes from the spell, Gordon remembers attacking the thief, but he can’t recall why. The only clue Ethan has is that someone cast a spell just before Gordon began his attack, though he cannot tell who cast the spell or what it was meant to do.

In the midst of trying to uncover this mystery, Ethan must continue his more mundane work. Very few people know that he’s a conjurer, as witchcraft is illegal in Boston of the 1770s, and so he must rely on his skills as a thieftaker to keep himself fed. Unfortunately, times are hard enough that he must accept work from anyone, including Tories, despite the disapproval of his lover Kannice and his close friend Diver, both of whom support the growing revolutionary movement. His current job involves protecting the shop of one Theophilus Lillie, a man who has drawn the ire of revolutionaries. The day after Gordon attacked the thief, Ethan arrives at Lillie’s shop to find it tarred and feathered, along with a growing mob outside. Luckily for Lillie, the mob is distracted by the arrival of Ebenezer Richardson, a Loyalist.

Unluckily for the mob, Ethan soon feels another spell.

This one doesn’t cause a fistfight. Instead, it causes something far worse. Richardson has just made it to the safety of his house, and shortly after Ethan feels the spell, Richardson appears at his window with the musket and fires into the crowd, mortally wounding a boy named Christopher Seider.

This is what I love most about the Thieftaker series: Lillie, Richardson, and Seider were all real people. In the hands of a lesser writer, mixing fiction with something that will lead up to what most schoolchildren learn as the first major event involved in the American Revolution would seem as though he merely wanted to show off his ability to include a major historical event in his book. D. B. Jackson, however, pulls it off flawlessly, even managing to use the Boston Massacre as part of the rising action rather than involving it directly in the climax. This is historical fantasy at its best, when the author sacrifices neither history nor fantasy in pursuit of what would make the best story.

I mentioned in my review of A Plunder of Souls that I much prefer Sephira in that book than in the first two because she seems properly human rather than simply a powerful, beautiful antagonist. In this book, she returns to the role of antagonist, but her humanity remains, although she isn’t much more sympathetic than she was at the beginning. Instead, she is simply an excellent character, and one I heartily enjoyed reading. In fact, if the series were to continue, I would mainly want it to be for her, so that I could see what else she might do. Even if her character develops no further than it had in the third book, I would be eager to read.

Dead Man’s Reach is an excellent end to an excellent series, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first three books. If you haven’t read the first three in the series, then I’d definitely recommend starting it, especially if you like having a strong sense of history in your historical fantasy.

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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
Dead Man's Reach by D. B. Jackson, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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