Cornelia Funke – The Thief Lord
15. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke (2000)
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy (sort of – see the review.)
Started: 05 February 2009
Finished: 07 February 2009
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 20 November 2008
Verdict? Keeper, although it’ll probably get put in the backstacks.
Two orphans, living in
Venice, find a family
with a gang of kids.
Summary: Orphans Prosper and Bo are on the run – after their parents died, their horrible Aunt Esther wanted to adopt five-year-old Bo but not twelve-year-old Prosper, and fearing separation, they headed to Venice, a city that their mother had always described as being full of mystery and wonder. They quickly fall in with a group of street children – pickpockets and petty thieves, ruled over by the mysterious (albeit young) Thief Lord. But even so, their lives are far from stable – their aunt has hired a detective to find the children, and the Thief Lord has accepted a mysterious and dangerous commission to steal something far more valuable than anything they’ve stolen before.
Review: It would seem as though The Thief Lord has it all: an interesting plot, lots of loveable characters, a vividly-depicted setting, some nicely adventurous escapades, more than a few chuckle-inducing moments, and a heartwarming message about the nature of family and home. However, it’s clearly for younger readers than Funke’s Inkworld series, so readers looking for more of the same might be disappointed – the sensibility’s the same, but the story is less meaty even than Inkheart, and lacks the thematic oomph of the later books. It also straddles a weird divide between regular fiction and fantasy. For most of the book, I thought it was simply a regular heist adventure story, and then about 2/3s of the way in, there’s suddenly a magical merry-go-round (…yes, really.) It left me at a point where I’m uncomfortable calling it a fantasy novel, because it’s mostly not, but it also feels dishonest not to call it fantasy, because the the introduction of the fantasy elements are really jarring if you’re not expecting them. Overall, it was a fast and cute read, with lots of individually good elements, but it just never entirely gelled for me – although it did leave me really wanting to go back to Venice. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Middle-grade readers are probably going to enjoy this the most, or adults who are looking for a light diversion.
Other Reviews: Bending Bookshelf, Jandy’s Reading Room, Mindless Meandering, Scholar’s Blog Spoiler Zone, Blog of Small Things
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: It was autumn in Venice when Victor first heard of Prosper and Bo.