Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

c2008 Fiction; Grades 9+; 327 p.

2008 ALA Alex Award Booklist Starred Review: Ren doesn't know how he lost his hand, who his parents are, or how he arrived at St. Anthony's, a prisonlike orphanage. Certain that no one will ever adopt him, he takes secret revenge on those who beat and torment him by stealing. Then Benjamin Nab appears, claiming Ren as his long-lost younger brother. Off they go, and Ren, a marvelously plucky narrator, is ecstatic. But his savior turns out to be a con man given to diabolical and grotesque endeavors. It's a ghoulish and violent world right out of the most nihilistic fairy tales, with shades of Dickens and Deadwood. Set in a decimated nineteenth-century New England town ruled by the owner of a mousetrap factory, Tinti's shivery tale features an otherworldly cast of characters. Each is caught in a snare of some sort and must figure out how to get free. Tinti revealed her macabre sensibility in her story collection, Animal Crackers (2004). In her highly original debut novel, she renders the horrors and wonders she concocts utterly believable and rich in implication as she creates a darkly comedic and bewitching, sinister yet life-affirming tale about the eternal battle between good and evil.

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