Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Review: A Business of Ferrets

Like most of my book acquisitions, when I requested this book from Paperback Swap, I selected it randomly. My request for A Business of Ferrets was based on the book being listed as a graphic novel but, upon receiving the book, I discovered that it is not a graphic novel but, a traditional, text novel. This caused me to question; why was this book listed as a graphic novel? Having just read A Business of Ferrets, I now have a good idea about the answer to this question.

A Business of Ferrets by Beth Hilgartner is aptly titled as it is the story of the young thief Ferret and her friends, Owl, Mouse, Squirrel, Donkey, Kitten and Sharkbait. The bond and innocence of this group of young friends is dangerously contrasted with the Council Houses of the court of the fantastic Empire of Bharaghlaf. Throughout the tale the Council Houses show how childish and irresponsible they can be.

The names of the children serve as a foil for the ultimate tone of the plot of A Business of Ferrets. Mrs. Hilgartner cleverly builds her tale in increasing steps of danger and intrigue. The children are Slum Rats and their rights as citizens of the Empire are tenuous, at best, in an Empire with no prohibition against the evils of slavery and drug distribution. Rather, these crimes are the very markets which are controlled by the Council Houses of the Empire of Bharaghlaf. Ferret and her friends become deeply and often uncomfortably involved with the Houses in the slow progress of this craftily constructed tale.

A Business of Ferrets begins without pretext but the trappings of the tale are those familiar in fantasy fiction; magic, myth, royal courts and intrigue and thieves guilds with knife fights in allies. I believe that A Business of Ferrets was listed as a graphic novel because the shocking nature of the climax of the tale which starts simply enough with a group of slum kids who’ve named themselves after woodland creatures.

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