Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'LITTLE THIEVES' book tour brought to you by TBR & BEYOND TOURS and MARGARET OWEN!
October 19th, 2021
Young Adult Fantasy
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: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4 / 5 stars)
I wasn't prepared for how much this book was going to hurt me.. nor the ways it would choose to do so. My emotions didn't start out particularly raw, in fact.. people have often felt I don't seem sensitive enough.
Like anyone, I can get invested in a specific character or relationship.. sure. I can become moved by their losses and their struggles. But this story hurt me in a very personal way. Vanja's pain is old and carefully tucked away, so when it gets dragged out.. it's not healed up quite like one might think.. having left it behind as she did. It's still a poison eating at the way she views everything.
In part, I blame unfamiliarity. I had never actually read The Goose Girl prior to picking up this book, which is the original fairy tale penned by The Brothers Grimm and I haven't read anything from Margaret Owen before, author of the acclaimed Merciful Crow series. If I had, perhaps I'd have been ready, but I have my doubts.
Though the story of The Goose Girl is troubling, Owen's touch takes it from a mere warning to a visceral experience. While Vanja's behavior may be unsavory, I certainly couldn't fault her for her reasoning. Watching her process, not just the things that had been done to her.. but also the lack of aid and the feelings of betrayal she developed was heartwrenching. The very way she subconsciously approached situations where she had been hurt, so telling of exactly why she would arm herself emotionally in the ways she had.
Death and Fortune enamored me. I loved the fact that though they were moved to attempt kindness, as gods.. their actions were disassociative. The lack of true understanding for human feelings was the perfect frame for Vanja's already battered childhood.
The world-building is rich and if not always beautiful.. at least beautifully textured. With a villain the likes of which I rarely come across, an intriguing magic system, and just the right evolutions between characters.. at just the right times.. Little Thieves manages to be both achingly dark and surprisingly hopeful.
If you like stories that dig in their claws and don't let go, characters that are more grey than black or white, and moral choices that leave you questioning your own principles.. this is the book for you.
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.