Little Thieves by Margaret Owen (9781250191908)
Vanja has a plan to escape the powerful forces in her life. It involves a string of stolen magical pearls that turn her into the princess and stealing a lot of jewelry. As the adopted daughter of Death and Fortune, she has only to ask for their help, but she refuses to be servant to either one of them in return. Abandoned by her mother to them, Vanja knows she can trust no one since everyone in her life has always betrayed her. Caught in a new trap where her body is steadily turning into jewels, she must find a way out of the curse before the month’s end and before she has to marry the violent and abusive margrave as the princess. She may have to start trusting someone after all.
This book is delicious. It is a mixture of thievery, cleverness, magic and betrayal. From the author of The Merciful Crow series, this is a new fantasy world which is beautifully detailed. Owen has layered royalty, elected imperials, inheritance laws, dark nightmare magic, forest gods, high gods, and one human thief. Untangling it all alongside Vanja is a true joy, the ripples of each discovery carrying through the entire tale. It’s a puzzle of a fantasy that is unique and very special.
At the heart of the puzzle is Vanja, who also goes by Gisele and Gretl in the story. Her brilliance at finding relative safety in a world that sees her as disposable is amazing. Her history of trauma rings so real, helping readers understand her lack of trust. Owen uses these twists and turns to great effect, surprising the reader along the way to the breathless ending where things are not as they may seem. Devastating and so smart.
One of the best fantasies of the year. Get this in the hands of feminist fantasy fans. Appropriate for ages 13-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Henry Holt and Co.