Book Review: Dead Man's Reach

Dead Man's Reach by D.B. Jackson, Thieftaker Chronicles #4


Boston, 1770. The city is a powder keg as tensions between would-be rebels and loyalist Tories approach a breaking point. One man is willing to light the match to ensure that he has his revenge.

The presence of the British Regulars has made thieftaking a hard business to be in. Ethan Kaille has to resort to taking jobs that he would otherwise pass up, namely protecting the shops of Tories from Patriot mobs. When one British loyalist takes things too far and accidentally kills a young boy, even Ethan reconsiders his line of work. Even more troubling is the fact that instances of violence in the city are increasing, and Ethan often finds himself at the center of the trouble.

Ethan discovers that some enemies don't stay buried… and will stop at nothing to ruin Ethan's life. Even if that means risking the lives of everyone in Boston, including the people that Ethan loves most.


And thus we are presented, sadly, with the so far to be last volume in D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker series. If you have been following the review of D.B. Jackson his other books in the series, you know that I am a big fan of his work, as well as the book that he wrote under the name of David B. Coe. Over the last four years, D.B. Jackson has delivered one stunning story of the other with this series, every time stepping up his game more and more. Perhaps the hardest part of each series is writing a satisfying ending, in Dead Man's Reach, D.B. Jackson delivers an outstanding grande finale, but i am still hoping that this isn't the last that we have seen from Ethan Kaille. 


In the previous book, Ethan had his work cut out for him, it was a tough job but in the end he managed to defeat the bad guy, but Ethan didn't get out unscathed. And with this D.B. Jackson kicks of the story in Dead Man's Reach, Ethan is still recovering from those events. Not necessarily from the physical injuries. Since the events in A Plunder of Souls, getting jobs as a thieftaker has gotten a lot harder and with a lot of competition in Boston Ethan finds it harder and harder to get the right jobs and of course get some pay, added to this comes that one thieftaker in town, Sephira Pryce still is looking for ways to destroy Ethan well not kill him per se but to get him out of the thieftaking business. As with the other books, in the first scenes in of the story, D.B. Jackson sketches a "normal" situation, well yes Ethan is still a speller, but soon the situation turns more and more towards the supernatural. Ethan, out of desperation has taken a job that he will regret. He has been protecting the stores of several British merchants in Boston. Since there is a lot of friction between factions, mobs have run amok and damaged goods and wares of several of the British merchants. Lately it has really gone to far and during one such an encounter one British soldier takes it to far and shoots a young boy. This only inflames the situation more and more. After this event Ethan receives more and more criticism and considers giving up his job permanently. However, if it were just that easy. Violence is starting to get the upperhand in many of the inhabitants of Boston and there is one peculiar thing about it all. Because every time a spell of violence erupts, Ethan finds himself in the middle of it all. Could it be a coincidence or could Ethan be the instigator? With everything that has happened and that is going on, Ethan starts to doubt his own powers and whether he is able to control them any longer. Is he casting spells unconsciously? Mariz, Sephira's speller, mentioned that he saw Ethan's ghost Reg appear briefly and this only happens when Ethan himself is casting a spell, what contradict this all is the fact that a "reveal magic" spell does not reveal Ethan's color of magic on the person, actually no magical aura is detected. As you can imagine, Ethan won't go on an early retirement with this on the loose. And soon he starts to pick up clues and is convinced that one person is behind it all. A person who should have been dead. As everyone around Ethan is in danger, the inhabitants of Boston and Ethan's closest friends he has to get to this person fast. Before everything that Ethan holds dear is destroyed by this mad man. But it is all easier sad and done, Ethan has to face one of the most powerful spellers that existed. 

If you read the synopsis or my brief summary it might not sound as a grande finale but trust me it is. I cannot tell who the bad guy is and such because that would spoil everything. The grande finale feeling is readily achieve by all that D.B. Jackson involves in his story, the alternate history part that really inspires and build a great atmosphere around the story. The way that he set up the story is what made it so addictive, Ethan is convinced that a certain someone is framing him or using him, but the others aren't convinced that Ethan is right, the effort he puts into proving his theory is what makes gives the story an intense feeling added tot his comes the fact that the bad guy can strike any where and any time he sees fit, this gives a dangerous feeling, an unpredictable feeling as to what might happen when. No one is safe. 

As for character development, we have seen Ethan is many different waters from happy to well not say happy, he has grown a lot in the previous book but here in Dead Man's Reach D.B. Jackson shows a great product of the transformation Ethan has gone through. Due to all the terrible things he had to deal with Ethan doesn't see his future that bright anymore in the thieftaking business. He is looking for new carriers and in the past there has been this flirting thing going on between Ethan and Kannice but never that serious, no one gave in... Also I think I have mentioned in a review of another book that Ethan and Sephira also had some love-hate relationship going on, well these intricacies play heavily on his character, and further build him personally. As for the other recurring characters, Kannice, Mariz, Greenleaf, Janna, Sephira and the other of Sephira's gang, they all lay a crucial role to support Ethan's character when he needs them the most, either for discussing matters, a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. 

With every book in the Thieftaker Chronicles I have said something about the magic system and thus I find myself repeating it again. IT IS AWESOME. Alright, why is it awesome? Because it matures and transforms in the same way that Ethan does. Ethan keeps on discovering, by himself and out of necessity new spells to use and understanding what his opponents do. This is what makes this magic system so attractive to me, it is straightforward but the uses are unlimited, it's all about spelling. Even the most powerful and accomplished spellers aren't invulnerable, there is a weakness somewhere you just have to look carefully and phrase you spell correctly!

With Dead Man's Reach D.B. Jackson deliverers a spectacular ending to the Thieftaker Chronicles. The whole build up of this story D.B. Jackson leaves you wondering who is messing with Ethan and to what purpose, you are actually thinking could it really, really be that guy or is Ethan just mistaking? But well once you find out the horrible truth, you will be suprised. The story already had a great pacing, but once the truth is out the pacing is ramped up even more. A great race to the finish. Though this is said to be the final volume in the Thieftaker Chronicles I surely hope that this isn't the last thing we have seen from Ethan Kaille! 

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