Series: Little Thieves #1
Published by Henry Holt & Co (10.19.2021)
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook, 512 pages
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.
Little thieves steal gold, and great ones steal kingdoms, but only one goes to the gallows.
Holy WOW! This book took me completely by surprise! To be honest, this book wasn’t even on my radar until I saw that my bookstabestie Christy (@cbookaddiction) was reading it and enjoying it, so I took a second look at it. Before that, I didn’t plan on reading it at all. I had tried to read Merciful Crow a couple years back and couldn’t get into it (now I think I want to try again!), and I completely dismissed this one. I don’t even know why!
The result? I was blown away. This book grabbed me from the very beginning and wormed its way into my heart! It’s very rare that I find a book that is literally laugh-out-loud funny. This book had me cackling! It reminded me a little of Serpent and Dove in that way, actually. And humor wasn’t the only thing I felt while reading this – I giggled, snorted, and belly laughed; but I also gasped, teared up or even cried a little a couple of times, and there was one scene that made me feel sick to my stomach because I felt what Vanja was feeling. It’s rare for me to forge an emotional connection like that to a book these days. This book gave me ALL the feels! View Spoiler »The scene where Emeric thinks Vanja killed Klemens and she’s trying to defend herself against accusations was visceral for me. I felt like I was Vanja, telling the truth and being labeled a liar no matter how much you try to convince them otherwise. I felt the helpless feeling of being wrongly accused, and the panic of not being believed. When she broke down crying, I cried with her! « Hide Spoiler
I can’t believe I almost missed out on this gem. The characters were fantastic, the writing was fantastic, and the story sucks you in. It’s engrossing, and compelling. The pacing is unrelenting, and I was not bored for a single second despite it being over 500 pages. The very first chapter hooked me in a way that I crave desperately in every new read (because that’s usually the basis of my 5 star books), yet doesn’t happen very often. I knew before I even hit the halfway mark that this would be a 5 star book for me. There’s something about Owen’s writing that gets to you. When I wasn’t reading this, I was thinking about it. It killed me not to just finish via audio while I was working, but I honestly hate Saskia Maarleveld’s narration and she was ruining it for me.
Ya’ll, these characters. Holy shit. What a fantastic cast of characters! I loved them all, but my fave by a landslide was Ragne. I. fucking. LOVE. Ragne!!! She’s so pure and entirely wholesome, guys. Her and I would be best friends in real life. (Did I mention she can shapeshift into a cat, among other things?) I love that she used “the” in front of people’s names (the Vanja, the Giselle), and she was so naive in the ways of people, and shameless because of that naivety. She was hilarious! When she was asking about liking someone and kissing was the CUTEST thing ever! I love that she always spoke exactly what she was thinking or feeling, shamelessly and unapologetically, with zero filter whatsoever. I also adored Poldi, Vanja’s fiery kobold protector!
Once upon a time, there was a girl as cunning as the fox in winter, as hungry as the wolf at first frost, and cold as the icy wind that kept them at each other’s throats.
Speaking of Vanja, she easily makes it into my top female MCs of all time. She’s one of the most morally grey MCs I’ve read in a while, but she was also one of the most relatable ones. She’s prickly, and immoral; but one of the most genuine characters I’ve ever read. She’s not a bad person, she was just forced into doing bad things to survive and to protect herself. She erected all kinds of walls and pushed people away, because deep down she was vulnerable, cared maybe a little too much, and had serious trust issues (rightfully so). And her character growth!! (Think: Flynn Rider from Tangled. Unrepentant thief finds someone that softens them and turns them ((mostly)) on a straight path.) I love that she started as this hard ass, and slowly Ragne and Emeric wore her down and got through her defenses. Emeric surprised me a lot. The impression you get of him in the beginning does a complete 180 at a certain part, and I was 100% not expecting it at all!
“You are an absolute terror,” he snaps. “At this point I’m frankly amazed nothing else cursed you before now.”
Omg, the banter!!! I love banter (especially the super snarky kind) and this book had it in spades. Like I said above, this book had me cackling! I giggled and snorted more times than I can count, but there were a couple of scenes that drew a genuine belly laugh out of me. Between Vanja’s unapologetic (and very unrepentant) immorality, Ragne’s frank honesty and lack of filter, and Emeric’s pedantic priggishness ….ugh, it was just perfect. *chef’s kiss*
[Emeric to Ragne, after Vanja threw him in the river]“Wait. Aren’t you the girl that pushed me to shore?”
“The Vanja sent me,” Ragne says brightly. Emeric blinks at me, startled, only to sour when Ragne adds, “I was only supposed to save your bag.”
“There it is,” he mutters.
“I wanted to say hello again,” Ragne continues, smiling very toothily, “and to tell you it’s my job to look after the Vanja, even though she is mean. If you hurt her, I will turn myself into a bear and kill you. That’s all. Goodbye!”
Which brings me to the romance. Enemies to lovers is my ALL TIME favorite trope and this one was done perfectly! It’s even better because they have got to be the two least likely people to ever get together, lmao! Like I said above, Vanja is unrepentantly immoral and Emeric is kind of a prig. The result = hijinks and hilarity abound!
“You’re a walking morality lecture with something to prove, and I’m a scoundrel with an unflinching sense of entitlement to other people’s property.”
The world is fantastic, too. (Like I said, everything about this book is fantastic!) I don’t know that I’ve read any books based in German folklore, and I loved it! (Also, I have to admit that I thought this was a Russian based novel, which may have been why I passed on it because I haven’t had much luck on those. i.e. Six of Crows, Wicked Saints, Winternight, Vassa) The magic is awesome and I loved everything about it. The Low Gods (including Vanja’s godmothers, Death and Fortune), the nachtmahrs, Eisenwald’s curse of greed on Vanja, all of the German lore and magical creatures…it was amazing! If you haven’t read this yet, what are you waiting for?!
Writing style: 5/5
Overall rating: 5/5