Book Review – Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

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.

I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy of this gorgeous book for review, the cover alone is stunning, I love the artwork and how different bits of it grow in relevance the further through the story you get.

Little Thieves is a re-telling of The Goose Girl – one of the tales made popular by the Grimm Brothers. I find re-tellings can be a bit hit or miss but this one is an absolute win, with the elements of Goose Girl used as basic building blocks for the tale but Little Thieves is so much more than it’s base inspiration. This book shows how re-tellings should be done.

I will admit it took me a couple of reading sessions to get properly absorbed in the story, but once I was it was so gripping I couldn’t put it down. I loved how there were so many layers to the story and as the book progressed more and more of them were slowly unpeeled and revealed. This book is so cleverly crafted.

Vanja was such a great character and as we got to know her and her motivations better she became more and more real and likeable. She was so strong and so vulnerable all at the same time, her sheer persistence and courage as well made her an engaging main character.

I do however have a particular soft spot for Ragne, she was such an awesome character. Her not quite understanding of human ways reminded me a lot of Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (who I also adore) and her shapeshifting kind of put her in the realm of animal companion (although of course she wasn’t really) for a lot of the story which is one of my favourite fantasy tropes.

The curse element was an excellent story line as it not only put obstacles in Vanja’s way but was a clever way to show time progressing over the course of the story – also a novel concept to have someone literally turning to gemstones and not one I’ve read before which is always nice.

Every character was so well developed and grew over the course of the story as we learnt more about the circumstances that had bought them to where they are and how they moved forwards from that. Perhaps the only one who didn’t get quite the same exploration of past actions was Adelbrecht although we did get some – also the narrative wasn’t about him in the same way so it didn’t feel missed.

The world building, lore and characterisations in this book were all phenomenal and this is easily one of my favourite books of the year so far.

With thanks to Hodderscape for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.

Little Thieves will be published October 2021

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