Mary’s Book Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

How Excited Was I To Read This Book? 6. I’d read glowing reviews, and I do enjoy a little thievery.

How Excited Was I After I Read This Book? 8. It surprised me! Unlike my sister, who always RUINS CHRISTMAS, or at least tells me what I’m getting ahead of time, I like a good surprise.

Book Jacket: “I can steal anything.”
After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task – to steal a hidden treasure from another land.
To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

Review: This book’s beginning called to mind the first chapters of Poison Study by Maria Snyder (review forthcoming!). First-person descriptions of a terrible prison and the resulting ravages to the prisoner’s body. But already I could tell this book was something different: Gen told his tale so matter of factly. It did not feel like a show of strength. I would not use the word bravely. He almost told the story as though it was just another day in pursuit of the ordinary business of thieving. The tone continued throughout the book, and I enjoyed it, though at times this narrator was certainly puzzling. For example, rather than relate complaints, he would inform us that he had been complaining profusely and being all-around annoying. Which was not annoying at all, but instead disarming and often funny!

Another early sign I would like this book were Gen’s frequent references to bragging in wine shops. I was disappointed the wine shops did not come into the story somehow later! I LOVE a good wine shop! I lived in an apartment above a small wine store in New York for two years and it was just as amazing as you would imagine. Lots of free tastings, and they never rolled there eyes when you strolled in looking for a recommendation for a nice bottle to go along with a Dominoes Hawaiian Pizza. A pizza that you were obviously eating alone. Come to think of it, I did a lot of solo wine drinking during that period of my life. Any book that invokes such fine memories, however tangentially, is a winner for me!

I also really enjoyed the concept of thieving as a profession in this book. Not an underground outlawed practice but rather a trade worthy of respect when pursued by a true proficient like Gen was – or claimed to be. I came to like Gen more and more, but elevating thievery in this manner also lulled me into a false sense of security. With a book narrated by Gen, you had go ask yourself: at the end of the day, how far can you trust a thief?

Unresolved Sexual Tension: Sadly, basically nonexistent. I have high hopes for the two later books in the trilogy however!

Recommended for: Fans of storytelling – both for this story and those self-contained. This book included small tales of gods and mythology reminiscent of a Juliet Maurillier story, for example. Also I don’t want to give too much away, but those who like a good twist at the end might enjoy this one!

If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: The Westing Game. I don’t really have any other good ones because this book is aimed younger than I usually read.