Today’s post is my part of the blog tour for Little Thieves by Margaret Owen, run by TBR and Beyond. My stop today features my review for this stunning book, that did really surprise me! (In the best way, a 5-star read for sure.)
Morally grey characters, LGBTQIA+ rep, an adorable shapeshifting half-human, half-god… and a fairytale set up.
Check out my full review below and the rest of the stops here!
About the Book
Title: Little Thieves
Series: Little Thieves #1
Author: Margaret Owen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (US) Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Source: eARC from the publisher (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased)
Release Date: September 19th 2021 (US and UK)
Links (inc. US purchase links): Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Indigo
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.
I’m going to be very honest here, I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. Heists, fairytales and morally grey characters… it sounded too good to be true.
Alas, once upon a time I read a story and fell in love…
Little Thieves is a story that will grab you from the very beginning, leading you head first into the emotional trauma suffered by the main character, Vanja, as she’s abandoned by her mother for being the thirteenth child of a thirteenth child. Luckily, in some ways, Death and Fortune take her in as her own. They raise her and Vanja, for the most part is happy with them being her mothers. Until of course they essentially ask her to choose between them for a life of servitude.
That’s pretty much the start of things going very badly for Vanja. Rather than choose between them she decides to take matters into her own hands and try to raise enough money to basically run away. That’s when we’re thrown into the action where Vanja is pretending to be Princess Gisele and… using the cover to steal from the rich. Granted, for the most part it’s purely selfish why she steals but there are plenty of times she aids those who are poor from doing this.
She accidentally steals a symbol of a god, which angers that god into cursing her, slowly turning her into jewels. It starts small, a teardrop shaped ruby on her face but as time passes the curse, naturally, gets worse. The god sends her with aid in the form of Ragne, a half-god, half-human shapeshifting ball of adorableness. She acts like a child because she’s never been around humans for long and she’s just so sweet, yet will turn into a lion and bite anyone who dares try to hurt someone she cares about.
If you enjoy LGBTQIA+ representation in your books… my god this has some of the sweetest rep I’ve seen. Our main character is demisexual and there is an f/f side romance that is just so sweet to watch from the beginning to the end.
And then pretty much all the way through, Vanja is sassy and headstrong. She’s equally suffered trauma and is learning to really live with that but her jokes throughout? Loved them. As the reader, we know she isn’t perfect. But it’s endearing to watch as she tries to basically become a good person. Likewise, she struggles with difficult abandonment issues, but the way Margaret writes this makes it easy to put yourself in her shoes.
In terms of other characters, we have the overeager junior detective, Emeric, who is basically very smart and very good at his job but… so useless when it comes to romantic feelings, pretty much similar to Vanja. One of the best things about Little Thieves is watching as they slowly fall for each other as they get to know more and more about the other. There is the Princess Gisele herself, who’s been forced to do a lot of growing up but I actually really enjoyed the parts of her character development we were able to see. And there’s Joniza, who kind of acts like an older, very exasperated sister for the majority of the time we see her. She was very cool though.
Death and Fortune pop-up at various times of the story, and what I found interesting is they seem pretty much as clueless about human emotions as Ragne, even though they’ve raised Vanja? Regardless, I enjoyed their scenes and I’d personally love to have the benefits of being able to see if something was lucky, unlucky or could bring death, it was a great little addition to the world-building.
In terms of the overall world-building, the story is set in a Germanic-fantasy land which was new to me from a readers’ perspective so I really enjoyed the little insights we got into German culture. The use of gods in the world was another element of the world-building that worked extremely well also.
I’m pretty sure this was originally supposed to only be a standalone but is now part of a series… and I’m SO happy about that! I actually already own Margaret’s other duology The Merciful Crow, thankfully, so I’m planning to read that soon also as I enjoyed this one so much!
One last thing about Little Thieves… the finished copies feature these STUNNING illustrations throughout the parts and they are so lovely to see. They really enhance the fairytale feel of the book and I’m so in awe of Margaret’s talent as she drew them! She’s an absolutely all-round super-talented artist both with art and words and I’m so excited to read more of her work in the future!
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.
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