Read by William Dufris
Synopsis: Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. When a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? As Ren is introduced to a life of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves, he begins to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well….
My thoughts: The cover captured my attention to this book and was solely the reason why I wanted to listen to it without reading the synopsis. For some reason, I had the vibe that this book will be something like The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, but of course it turned out nothing like it. I was surprised as to what this story entailed and I found myself entertained by it.
The whole mystery about the main character's missing hand and where he came from was what had me hooked the whole time. Ren was a boy who was filled with hopes and dreams. He came up with fascinating tales as to how he came to be an orphan and how he lost his hand. Even more outlandish tales about Ren's origins were brought up when the character, Benjamin, showed up in the picture. Learning the truth towards the end, though, was a bit surprising.
I was under the impression at first that this was a children's book; as I kept listening to it, it was not. There were a few mature topics that were brought up. They weren't really sexual in content but grotesque (the characters did grave robbing). I learned that just because the book was about a twelve-year-old boy didn't mean that the book was for younger readers.
This production was read by William Dufris. William was the voice of Bob from the children's show, Bob the Builder. I was baffled on how different his voice sounded here versus how he sounded in the kid's TV show. In this audio, his voice was calm enough to have me drone off a few times. He knew how to capture the intense moments and was able to portray Ren as well as the other characters. I ended up liking Durfris' performance.
To sum up, this was an interesting story that took me by surprise. Though I had to keep telling myself that it was not a book for young kids, I was able to enjoy the audio production. I liked the mystery behind Ren and liked how it ended. I rate it: