THE GOOD THIEF by HANNAH TINTI.
Twelve-year-old Ren, abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony's orphanage, is missing his left hand. He doesn't know why: in fact, the only thing of which he can be sure is that no one will ever adopt him.
Then a young named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren's long-lost brother. Soon Ren finds himself on a strange journey through nineteenth-century New England, entangled with grave-robbers, thieves and murderers, while Benjamin's stories become more outlandish and Ren's dreams of a family recede ever further. Should he stay and become one of the gang, or escape and be alone once more? And - if he survives Benjamin's riskiest scheme - will the truth about his parentage be something he really wants to know?
From the outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: The man arrived after morning prayers.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: To his right the cemetery gate stood open. To his left was the town common, the grass bending in the wind. I'm not afraid, Ren thought. Then he glanced into the back of the wagon. One of the bags was sitting up.
How best to describe this novel which, one of the best I have read in a while, is right up there in my top ten?
Unusual, engrossing, beautifully written and with characters that I quickly grew to love, The Good Thief really is storytelling at it's best.
Despite the fact that some of the characters were of rather dubious morals, you couldn't help but feel some affection for them. I particularly liked Dolly, the giant murderer who I found so endearing despite his crimes. Then there was the brother of the gruff yet motherly Mrs Sands who came as quite a shock. Actually such is the quirky nature of many of the characters, I could see this book becoming a film made by the likes of Monty Python member TERRY GILLAM who is well known for his quirky character led films such as TIME BANDITS which, strangely enough, puts me in mind of this book.
As one of the comments on the back cover pointed out this is a "A novel so marvelous and enchanting and rare that you wish everyone in the world would read it" - a statement I couldn't agree more with.
MY RATING: A definite 5 out of a possible 5. A book everyone should read.