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Monday, January 9, 2023

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen - Review

Official Author Website

Buy Little Thieves HERE


OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: 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.

FORMAT/INFO: Little Thieves was published by Henry Holt & Company on October 19th, 2021. It is 500 pages split over 42 chapters. It is written in first person from Vanja's point of view. It is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS:  Vanja Schmidt is a lot of things to a lot of people. Thanks to enchanted pearls, a kingdom believes she’s the Princess Gisele, who has spent the last year awaiting her fiance’s return so they can be married. To the nobles, Vanja is the mysterious jewel thief that strikes in the night. And to the gods Death and Fortune, Vanja is their goddaughter. But Vanja’s life of luxury is thrown into turmoil when she accidentally offends a forest god and is cursed to die in two weeks, unless she can follow the god’s cryptic instructions to break the curse.

Little Thieves is an near-perfect fantasy adventure story, one that effortlessly threads together multiple plot threads and themes for a rousing standalone tale. At first glance, there’s a lot going on in Little Thieves: Vanja’s leading a double (triple?) life, an imperial detective is poking around her recent jewel thefts, Princess Gisele’s fiancé has arrived home and wants to get married, and there are dark creatures attacking the city. And yet all these elements are effortlessly woven together so that it never feels like too much.

At the heart of the story are a fantastic crew of characters. Vanja herself is a snarky, clever heroine, but her sarcasm is tempered by some real vulnerability as she slowly reveals the events that led her to betray Princess Gisele and steal her life. Gisele herself is still living in the city, and the two have to find a grudging way to work together to thwart the threat to the kingdom. Emeric, the detective, is more than capable of matching wits with Vanja, and I loved watching the dance of detective and thief. There are so many other wonderful characters in here to discover, and the story is LGBTQ friendly to boot.

My one very minor quibble is that Vanja’s first efforts at breaking the curse are painfully bad. While her decisions make sense for her as a character, you’re just left sitting there with your head in your hands going “I KNOW you’re smarter than this!”

CONCLUSION: I expected to enjoy Little Thieves, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did. At a certain point, I couldn’t put the book down, reading over 200 pages in an afternoon. It’s an exhilarating tale with both laughter and tears. With a standalone sequel, Painted Devils, on the way, now is the perfect time to check out this book if you haven’t already.

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