Reviewed by Jennifer Bogart
The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers
"...enthralling, and written in a southern-style dialect that lends a unique cadence to the writing style."
Grady is a lost boy. Cut off from his past and origins by a deceiving huckster, he has spent his life wondering about where he really came from, and if he’ll ever find a place in the world. Traveling across Corenwald with his handler Floyd, his fondest memories are of his performances as “The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp”. The Feechies are a nearly mythical race of Corenwald, but when belief in them wanes Floyd and Grady’s tactics change.
The Charlatan’s Boy is the first Jonathan Rogers novel that I’ve read; it is apparently set in the same world as his Wilderking series, and I’m sure there are tie-ins that previous readers will readily recognize. However, if you are a first-timer like myself, there is no problem at all starting with The Charlatan’s Boy as a read-alone (it does seem there are follow-up titles planned for this book as well, though it satisfies as a self-contained story.)
Written in the first person from Grady’s point of view, the story is enthralling, and written in a southern-style dialect that lends a unique cadence to the writing style. This is a brisk read, and only took me an evening or so to read through. Intended for young adults, the quick-moving story and involving plot are a great fit for this age group.
Published by Random House’s Christian publishing branch (Waterbrook), there are definitely parallels and allegorical connections that can be drawn between Grady’s experiences as a lost, orphaned boy and life as a lost individual in a fallen world where true love seems so hard to find. These are subtle however, and really need to be dug out. Because of this subtlety this book can easily be read by believers and non-believers alike, many younger readers will totally miss out on these ties without them being explicitly pointed out to them.
Parents looking for an explicitly Christian young adult title likely won’t find that The Charlatan’s Boy fits the bill, but it is a clean, wholesome, and adventure-filled read that is filled with adventurous hi-jinks and heartwarming discovery. That in itself marks The Charlatan’s Boy as a title to check out for tween and teen readers in a marketplace saturated with questionable content for youth.
Jennifer Bogart is a child of God, wife and homeschooling mother of three young children (so far). She writes homeschooling resources with her husband at Bogart Family Resources, and reviews as a creative outlet. Passionately dedicated to promoting the work of Christian authors and artists, her blog Quiverfull Family features reviews, contests, family updates, homeschooling tidbits and well - a bit of everything.