I received Hannah Tinti’s gem of a novel, The Good Thief, in the mail as a free gift from the literary journal One Story, along with an invitation to what sounded like a really awesome AWP Conference event. (If you aren’t a One Story subscriber, do it. They’re great, and every three weeks you’ll get a single excellent story in chapbook form sent to you in the mail.)
Having finished Tinti’s novel several days ago, the word I keep coming back to again and again is remarkable. And it is, indeed, a remarkable story. Set in New England in the 1800s, the novel follows Ren, a twelve-year-old orphan who, after spending almost his entire childhood at the Saint Anthony’s orphanage, suddenly finds himself under the care of two local con-men, Benjamin and Tom. Various hijinks ensue. In the advance praise for her novel, Tinti has been compared (by Junot Díaz and Don Chaon) to Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson, particularly for what a great adventure story this is. There’s a rooftop chase scene! And several murders! And a kidnapping! And a landlady get locked in a chest! And some graves are robbed! It’s truly an exciting book to read, and the most excellent thing about it is that within the specific world that Tinti creates, the events of this tale feel wholly believable. Tinti’s writing is natural and uninhibited—she is a fabulous storyteller, and that made this book an absolute pleasure to read. I highly recommend you check this out—you won’t be disappointed.
Read it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.