CSFF Blog Tour – The Charlatan’s Boy, Day 3

I’ve been chatting about the CSFF Blog Tour December feature, The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers (before I forget, if you’re on Facebook, consider sending Dr. Rogers a friend invite), for a number of days now. Or weeks.

Shortly after the book released Dr. Rogers did a guest post at Speculative Faith. Which got me to thinking, and I ended up featuring him in a post on my editing blog—Rewrite, Reword, Rework. About that same time, I used the opening of The Charlatan’s Boy as an example of … voice, I believe it was, in an online writing group of which I’m a member.

And then the tour. There have been such excellent posts, including Donita Paul‘s feechie imagination challenge and Sally Apokedak‘s look at the spiritual aspect of the book. I’ve been busy interacting with any number of bloggers, and enjoying it immensely.

Now it’s time for my review, and in some ways I feel like it’s all been said already, that you all would be best off if you took the tour as I did. And I hope you do. Take a half hour a night and read the posts (you can find the links at the end of Monday’s post). You’ll learn a lot about Jonathan Rogers, the man and the writer, and about his wonderful story. You’ll learn about how a work of fiction can stir deep spiritual thoughts without being conspicuous about it. And you’ll learn what makes so many of this diverse group of bloggers love an unpretentious book marketed for the young adult crowd.

What can I add? My opinion, I guess. (But remember, you get what you pay for. 😀 )

The Story. Grady is an orphan, under the care of a flimflam man named Floyd. Together they travel throughout the island of Corenwald primarily selling as truth a pack of lies. The greatest of these is that Floyd is a feechie expert and Grady is a full grown feechie he’s captured.

Grady is attached to Floyd simply because he’s all the boy has. Floyd, on the other hand, treats Grady mostly like a hired hand, refusing to tell him who he is or where he came from. When interest in the feechie act dries up, the charlatan and his boy try a variety of other routines, none particularly successful.

One day Floyd gets an idea how to revive interest in feechies. Grady happily complies, and their scheme works—up to a point. Instead of giving Grady what he thought he wanted, the outcome of their plot shakes up his world for good.

Strengths. The Charlatan’s Boy is inventive. Words like “civilizer,” “angrified,” and “robustious,” and accompanying unique grammar constructions join with an imaginative world and people to make this story feel like something you’ve never read before.

The novel has a bit of the flavor of Paul Bunyan stories, whoppers told as real events, but there’s a hint of Prydain, too, or maybe Narnia.

At any rate, the book is a wonderful blend, one Sally Apokedak has called Frontier Fantasy. It’s the perfect term, I think.

The characters are every bit as strong as the inventiveness. Grady is lovable, sadly so because he wants so much to fit somewhere in the world he knows, but Floyd holds him at arms distance, at best. More than anything, I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen to Grady next and in particular if he would ever find what he needed.

The story is really an exploration of the human heart, so there is a lot of universal truth between the covers—about truth and lies, belonging and love. Without a doubt, Dr. Rogers’ look at these timeless issues is from a Christian perspective, so it lends itself to Christian interpretation, whether intentional or not.

Weaknesses. No, I don’t think it’s a perfect book, but it’s well on the way. 😉 First, I thought a few chapters wandered about a bit. Some reviewers termed the story “episodic” and it was to an extent in the early part. Once Floyd and Grady settled on a scheme to revive their feechie act, the plot coalesced nicely and the pace picked up.

As much depth as a number of bloggers have found in the book, I can’t help wondering if the gold they uncovered isn’t partly a result of their writing about the story. In other words, I think if the truth that many uncovered had been woven throughout the story intentionally, it would have been that much stronger.

Will the average reader notice either of these areas? Probably not. I think they will more than likely be as delighted by the book as I was.

Recommendation. A must read for fantasy lovers. A must read for those looking for a read-aloud book. A must read for those who want to discover quality literature. A must read for those who want a fun yet touching story about an engaging character.

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

Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm  Comments (6)  
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