Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today is my stop on the TBR and Beyond blog tour for Little Thieves, and you can find the full schedule for the range of posts going up over the week here. I’ll be sharing my review and top five reasons to read.
Content Warnings: Knife and fantasy violence, historic child abuse, historic sexual assault, attempted poisoning
Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl…
Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love – and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.
The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.
Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.
Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.
Rating: Five stars
This has ended up being one of my top reads of the year. I was a bit belated in reading it because of my life imploding around me, and picking this up ended up being the perfect remedy for everything I was processing.
One of the things I admire most about Little Thieves is how it manages to be both character driven and plot driven at the same time. Things are progressing rapidly in the story but at the same time we get a huge amount of insight to Vanja over the course of the story, gradually allowing us to piece everything together, to understand why she is the way she is when we encounter her. It is hugely admirable how balanced this is as by nature they are normally conflicted styles, yet the author toes the line between the two perfectly, resulting in a near perfect story.
Between the cunning and the swindling, Vanja shines in her determination to be strong and not rely on anyone, having been failed so many times before. She might be living a life – literally – dripping in rubies and pearls now, but has slept on the floor with rats and knows what the other end of the scale can so easily be. Underneath it all, she is just a scared young girl, desperate to be loved, terrified of being alone, worried about what the future will hold for her.
The cast of characters we meet, we become initimately familiar with very quickly, and they all come with their quirks and characteristics that allow the unconvential group to form as a unit. They all bounce off one another in different ways, forming an unexpected team to be working together as a united front that none of them predicted. The twists and turns in the story match their actions as if dancing with them perfectly, and you just lose yourself in the utter wonder of this special book.
Little Thieves is about so many things. It’s about making up for our mistakes. It’s about seeing we can have a future, whatever our past. It’s about taking fate into our hands and reaching difficult decisions. It’s about, ultimiately, the fantastical perials of being human, no matter how much magic might be involved.
Top Five Reasons To Read
- Morally questionable characters
I love a good morally grey character, as I’ve mentioned on more than one ocassion, and even written a whole post about here. Sometimes you want to fall in love unquestionably with your protagonist, and sometimes you want to read about what they’re doing, think, “you’re kind of an arse”, and fall in love with them because of that.
- Death and Fortune
I’m always curious about books that display Death as a character or entity in them, and here we see Death as a major character in a really unique way. To see Death and Fortune as a sisterhood who reflect the other sides of one coin was really interesting, and this concept grabbed my attention right from the off.
- Shape-Shifting Demigod
When Vanja is cursed, the God leaves her daughter in charge of overseeing her. This funny little shape shifter ended up being one of my favourite characters for all her powers, wit and entertainment, whether she was a talking cat or a delibrately naked human.
- Brilliant Narration
For various reasons I ended up listening to this as an audiobook, and it absolutely shone. Some books work even better as audio, and this completely did. The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, has narrated some absolutely brilliant books that I loved in the past, and she was the right pick to compliment this book and do it justice.
- Retelling Happiness
In another book review recently, I talked about what a great wave of retellings we’ve seen recently, and this is all happening for such a variety of reasons but everything that is coming out either direct retellings or books inspired by original tales are all such magic. I’m a big fan of retellings that manage to be unique, and this ticked all the boxes for me.
About the Author
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.
Thanks for joining me for this post about a book I’m not going to forget for a long, long time! It’s absolutely one to watch if you’re on the look out for…. Well, just a very very good book.
Thank you to TBR and Beyond as ever for their hard work! Come back again soon.