Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthonys Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own and is terrified of the day he will be sent alone into the world.
But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Rens long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, hes lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.
The man arrived after morning prayers. Word spread quickly that someone had come, and the boys of Saint Anthonys elbowed each other and strained to catch a glimpse as he unhitched his horse and led it to the trough for drinking. The mans face was hard to make out, his hat pulled so far down that the brim nearly touched his nose. He tied the reins to a post and then stood there, patting the horses neck as it drank. The man waited, and the boys watched, and when the mare finally lifted its head, they saw the man lean forward, stroke the animals nose, and kiss it. Then he wiped his lips with the back of his hand, removed his hat, and made his way across the yard to the monastery.
Men often came for children. Sometimes it was for cheap labor, sometimes for a sense of doing good. The brothers of Saint Anthonys would stand the orphans in a line, and the men would walk back and forth, inspecting. It was easy to tell what they were looking for by ...
Scarcely thirty pages in, I realized what I suspected was true: this is the book that everyone will love this summer. Not just you, but your teenage daughter, your 12-year-old grandson, your mother or grandmother... it's hard to think of someone that won't be taken with this lovely little book.
An adventure tale with a good dose of Gothic finery, The Good Thief is
refreshingly old-fashioned, wonderfully strange, and darkly funny. It's suspenseful and grim, but you can still read it before bed, and its charm is
quirky enough to keep it from ever becoming twee .... Unfortunately, the second half of The Good Thief doesn't quite measure up to the great promise of the first. As the plot progresses it wavers dangerously between delightful
quirkiness and hokum .... All in all, The Good Thief probably won't change your life, but it will remind you of the up-all-night-with-a-flashlight
novels of your childhood that, in some way, did.
(Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
Full Review (1004 words).
When we think of grave-robbing, we usually think of dark tales involving bandits pillaging graves for jewelry or other valuables. But the value of bodies in the 19th century stretched far beyond that of their adornments. Before people began donating their bodies to science, the only legal supply of cadavers in the UK for medical research and education were those of convicted murderers sentenced to death and dissection.
As medical science began to flourish in the 19th century, criminals and doctors became strange bedfellows as dead bodies were bought and sold in a morally complex quest for medical advancement. At the time, stealing a corpse was only a misdemeanor, not a felony, and body-snatchers or ...
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