Hi friends! I have been so incredibly busy with a million and one projects the past two months, but I’m back with a new review. This one is for “Little Thieves” by Margaret Owen–on sale now!
An eARC and final copy was provided to me by Macmillan. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Read on to check out the official synopsis, my review, and a bit about the author!
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.
“Little Thieves” by Margaret Owen was an absolute joy to read and kept me hooked from beginning to end. I love fairy tale retellings and was so excited to find out that “Little Thieves” was a retelling of a lesser known story, “The Goose Girl.” We see a lot of retellings from tales made popular by Disney, and not very often ones from the rest of Brothers Grimm’s collection.
I personally had never been told or read “The Goose Girl,” so I went into “Little Thieves” first and then went back once I finished and read the original tale. And oh my, I’m so extraordinarily impressed with how Margaret Owen went about this retelling and how she incorporated callbacks to the source material while still creating something so unique. Instead of focusing on the princess, we focus on the maid who steal’s the princess’s identity. We have the physical trait that brings out the worst of people’s greed, horses play a significant role, the “choosing her own punishment” aspect comes into play, and Owen even borrows the name Conrad from the original story.
One of the main reasons I loved “Little Thieves” so much was because of the main character, Vanja. Though she is a thief and on the surface is very selfish, we come to learn why she is the way she is throughout the story and she becomes someone to root for. Gisele is another character who started off as someone I couldn’t stand and was quite content with Vanja stealing her identity, but she became someone I wanted to succeed the more we got to really know her.
As I read, it was interesting going back and forth between the two, who have a lengthy history together, and trying to figure out who was wrong, and who was right, and is there validity in their arguments as to why they are so awful to each other. While it may sound as if Owen is pitting two women against each other, it’s not so simple. Both can be considered villainous in their own ways, neither is fully innocent, and both are strong young women who have trauma and are just trying to come out the other side. I loved them both so much by the end and I really think Owen did them justice.
The absolute only thing that fell flat for me with “Little Thieves” was the ending. I’m talkin’ last page. Without spoiling, let’s just say I wanted a different outcome for how a certain character relationship comes to a close in this book. I just wanted a bit more. We will be getting a second book however, so I have hopes that I’ll be satisfied in Book 2 next fall.
Other than that, there is so much I loved about this book. The diverse characters, the magic system, the Gods, Emeric, Ragne. I could go on about the fun in watching Vanja lead a double life, and how much I loved watching her become a better person. There were so many aspects to this book that were standouts, but talking about them all would make this review go on forever, so I’ll leave it at this: Go read “Little Thieves.” It is wonderful and striking and brilliant.
★★★★☆ = Excellent.
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.