The Facefaker’s Game
Chandler J. Birch
Ashes doesn’t know who he is, but he knows what he’s good at: conning rich folk. And he knows who is important to him: those cast off by even the poor—especially when it comes to his misshapen friend named Blimey.
His whole world changes when Candlestick Jack, the leader of a thieving crew of Artificers, recruits Ashes and introduces him to one more truth about himself—Ashes has magic in him. As Jack trains him, Ashes does what any mischief-maker with a big heart and magical abilities would do—he becomes a vigilante whose personal mission is to take down the evil governor oppressing his city.
Chandler J. Birch’s debut novel is rich with artful wordsmithing, original world-building, and engaging characters. Ashes himself is a vibrant protagonist—a street-savvy young man who can slip on a new accent as easily as an Artificer slips on a new face or who can cheat a cheater out of his money without him being the wiser. And though he does not trust easily, Ashes is a good Samaritan who will sacrifice generously on behalf of those few who are worse off than he is.
Ashes lives in Burroughside, the dark slums governed by a sadist with secrets, and a place prowling with gangs by day and with monstrous Ravagers by night. The Facefaker’s Game does not hide from the true realities of gritty darkness, but neither does it revel in them. While the world is dark, its magic system revolves around light and people who can weave it as artfully as Chandler writes his story.
Author Brent Weeks describes Chandler’s style as a blend of “Sanderson, Dickens, and Lynch” with his own unique twists. It’s so true both in the story and in the telling. Before I could guess at how the plot would unfold, I was hooked on his writing. Chandler J. Birch can turn a phrase! As soon as I finished the prologue, I stopped to read it again aloud to myself, because it was just so beautiful. Throughout reading the book, I would literally race to my brother to read him Chandler’s latest wry bit of dialogue or eccentric description.*
And, when I reached the end of the book, I was delighted to find it will not stand alone for long! There will be a sequel, so go read The Facefaker’s Game right now and be enthralled by the magic of Chandler J. Birch.
*Personal Note for the Dedicated Reader: This isn’t something new. Chandler and I went to university together, and I frequently brought his writing back to my brother for his awe and entertainment. My brother is not an avid reader, but he enjoys when I read to him, and he is a diehard Brandon Sanderson fan, which—for him—means he only wants me reading Sanderson to him. He makes an exception, though, for Chandler’s stories—because he’s just that good. . . . And, on that note, kudos to Chandler for actually being the one to introduce me to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. What are friends for?