It’s hard to say which is scarier: not knowing where you’re going, or not knowing where you’ve been. Ren is a young boy who knows neither. He controls the present by stealing things, because he can – a stump where his hand should be is a better misdirect than any magician uses. He lives in the orphanage run by monks who believe the boy’s deformity is the devil’s work. It’s easier that way – right? When a man arrives interested in adopting Ren and bridging the span from past to present, the boy is hooked. “What’s the thing you want most in the world?” the man asks. “A family,” Ren answers. But at what cost? The boy is swept off to a world of hustling, grave robbing and theft, and guess what? He fits right in – he’s a natural. Hannah Tinti tricks us into reading a love story – with the purest intentions. Her characters are deeply complex: we’ve got compassion for the criminals and conceit for the men who serve god. And then – just as fast – the characters fall back into old habits. Tinti seems to prove that each of us is flawed in some way—that a relationship of any kind accounts for the defects.