The Charlatan’s Boy
Rarely am I unenthusiastic about proclaiming the great qualities of a recent read. I’ve even been known to sing the praises of a few favorite chapters in an otherwise unfavorable book. Inexplicably, I find myself at a loss when trying to explain this book to others.

 

The trouble may be sourced in my not quite knowing how to respond to this book. I am unsure whether to comment on the literary quality, my own personal enjoyment, the overall message/tone of the story…

 

In an attempt to keep it simple, perhaps I’ll just default to a standard review format.

 

SUMMARY:

Jonathan Rogers’ The Charlatan’s Boy is about… well.. a Charlatan… and a boy. More specifically it is the first person account written by a boy that has been playing a ‘feechie’ (ugly creatures that frequent swamps) in a sideshow. The antagonist in this piece would have to be growing skepticism of the people they depend on deceiving in order to make a living. The boy struggles a bit when asked to play other roles in order to bring in the funds because.. well.. he’s ALWAYS thought of himself as a feechie!

Finally, having hatched a scheme to ‘bring back’ the feechie scare – in order to return to their formerly lucrative trade – they embark on a long-con perpetuating the myth of the feechie folk and their impending onslaught.

 

COMMENTS:

And this is where I start fumbling for what to say.

 

The Charlatan’s Boy is an easy read, but it leaves my brain grasping at the text after shadowy meanings and pondering why exactly certain characters in his fictional account remind me of real live persons.

 

Can we say, “paradox”? Let me explain. By easy read, I mean that the first person account is charming and the overall pacing is relaxing and soothing and very often amusing. It teases my brain, though, with subtle thought-provoking themes that I’m too relaxed and ‘lazified’ to ponder during the actual reading, but return to haunt me hours after I’ve put it down: his desire to belong, the gullibility of the people, the trickery used…

 

As to the actual literary quality, I admired the author’s style of writing. I appreciated the character descriptions/developments which truly are the center theme of the story. Because I generally prefer a page-turner rather than relaxation reads and because the story itself wasn’t a driving feature, I found myself having to push a bit to reach the end.

 

His memorable characters made it worthwhile, however. The gentleman that confronted a party of ‘drovers’ by saying he could lick them all and showed them his long list of people he’d ‘whupped’ before asking if they wanted to fight him to prove him right or just add their name to his list is just one example. After adding every drovers’ name to the list, one changed his mind and requested the fight because he was sure of victory. The list holder promptly nods, says he’d better remove his name, did so, and proceeded to the next caravan with the same spiel leaving us to wonder if he truly was a great fighter, or simply good at blustering his way into names.

 

This little interchange isn’t even a key part of the story, but quality bits like this that made what would have felt like a slow read to me otherwise worthwhile.

I cannot in good conscience give it five stars. The author would have to add a riveting storyline to his already marvelous character base for me to do that, but I will gladly give it four.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <[…]> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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