In The Charlatan’s Boy, author Jonathan Rogers returns to the world of Corenwald he created in his successful Wilderking Trilogy by telling the story of Grady, an odd-looking boy who travels the countryside with a huckster named Floyd concocting various ways to trick townspeople out of their hard-earned money.
His past a complete mystery, Grady assumes he is unlovable because his parents abandoned him to Floyd and not much good for anything besides portraying a legendary swamp creature known as a feechie in one of “Professor” Floyd’s traveling scams.
Unlike Floyd and many of the other hucksters they encounter on their travels (one particularly despicable fella has a machine he says will streamline people’s prayers), Grady isn’t a big fan of the lifestyle but doesn’t know any other life. Given an opportunity to escape his life with the often cruel Floyd by a caring innkeeper, Grady inexplicably chooses to stay with his partner in crime. From there, the two hatch their biggest idea yet involving a roaring machine and the biggest feechie scare Corenwald has ever seen. But once the feechie scare begins, neither Grady or Floyd have any idea where it will lead them.
Classified as young adult/fantasy/fiction, The Charlatan’s Boy is an enjoyable read perfect for fiction readers who enjoy clean family friendly fantasy prose in the tradition of C.S. Lewis. Though nothing in the book would be characterized as explicitly Christian, Grady’s search for identity and purpose in a world telling him his worth to even a huckster like Floyd is limited is one clearly rooted in a Christian worldview. Much the way we struggle to listen for and follow God’s path in our lives, Grady battles his heartbreak, fear and rejection as he wonders whether he will ever have a place among the townspeople he never sticks around long enough to actually get to know. His yearning for purpose and meaning, his misgivings about the way in which Floyd conducts his business hits to the heart of the human condition. And did I mention it’s a really enjoyable story?
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by its publisher, Waterbrook Press.
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