Synopsis: (From Goodreads)"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.
After finally reading the first book in the series (the 4th is now released), I can't say enough good things about this set of books. I couldn't stop at The Thief and continued on to read the other three. I've since read that Turner plans on at least 2 more in the series. Lucky us! However, don't be afraid of starting an unfinished series. Like many of you, I don't usually like jumping into a series if I know I'll have a long wait before the next novel comes, but this series is different. Each book truly does stand on its own, with a satisfying conclusion and complete storyline. That said, here's what I loved about the first book.
Eugenides, the titular Thief, is a masterful character. Whining, complaining, never having enough to eat, Gen is every bit the scraggly thief he appears to be. However, there is so much going on beneath his appearance that discovering the layers of Gen's personality is part of the fun of the book. In fact, all of Turner's characters are well-developed. Each is a complex person with hidden motives, desires, and dreams. There aren't really any 'stand-in' characters. I get the idea that if a character didn't have a purpose within the story and a reason to be worth fleshing out, Turner simply didn't write them in.
Another aspect of the story that was engaging was the setting. Based on Greek culture and landscape, the story incorporates clear, traditional elements of Greece and its mythological system; however, Turner gives it a spin by setting the time period somewhere near the 1500's. With watches and firearms, it's a bit of a different Greece than we typically read about. Also, while the Gods in the story will seem familiar to us, they are entirely Turner's creation. In fact, she goes so far as to have characters relate stories of the creation or the Gods' and Goddesses' adventures. These are a gem inside of an already delightful story.
I do admit that I find it hard to give a clear review of the book because I don't want to give Turner's secrets away. One of the things I admire about her as a writer is her ability to leave some mystery for the reader. I'm used to books that show their hand to the reader and limit the suspense to making us wonder about how other characters will react once the secret is out. Instead, Turner does a tremendous job at leaving some things unsaid. The omissions are subtle, and not going to distract you from the story, but give her the chance to pleasantly surprise the reader with a few good revelations at the end of the story. That surprise of revelation is a sweet and rare gift that I think many readers will appreciate.
While I highly recommend this book, I do look at books from an educator's point of view and would like to mention that reluctant readers who lack finely-tuned reading skills might not enjoy the book quite as much as I did. Some of the pleasure comes in the subtle hints left by Turner and readers with weaker inference skills might find the beginning a little slow if they are missing out on the layering of the story and characters. However, this is an excellent adventure story that will draw in your readers if you can get them to buy into the promise of the story and give the beginning a little time to develop.
Drugs and Alcohol: None
Trailer from Greenwillow Books via YouTube: