Release date: September 7th
A high-stakes heist novel set in a gritty world of magic and malice
In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.
For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down…but even the most powerful men can be defeated.
Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.
Thank you to Saga Press and publicist, Kayleigh Webb, for providing an e-arc for review.
Trigger Warnings: body gore (not too graphic), abuse, and murder.
People. Heist stuff? I’m all over it. I can’t get enough of ‘they’re murderers and thieves but friendship is for life!’ That’s great. That part is highly entertaining to my little unhealthy brain. Heists did not start in Young Adult. It’s one of the oldest tropes in SFF but lately people have been forgetting that yes, this is something that’s a part of adult Science Fiction & Fantasy. Something to do with the fact that adult SFF doesn’t get nearly as much attention. Right along those lines.
Among Thieves is essentially you’re gay but can you be a bunch of corrupt little murderers and thieves? Hard yes.
Lately, I’ve been struggling to find a book that doesn’t sink me into the slump abyss. Books I’ve been really excited for, ones I’ve put on my most anticipated lists, left me with an overwhelming mountain of a slump. I wanted something good. Just fun high adventures and messy characters. Among Thieves sucked all the dull out of me and gave me a level of enjoyment that even my sick depressed brain couldn’t combat.
What makes this book shine? The characters. The group dynamic. The swashbuckling. The bantiest of banter. Not exactly the cheeriest bunch but I’m a big fan of morbid humor.
In Thamorr on the Lottery are thieves, smugglers, and nefarious souls surviving by only looking out for themselves. Clashes between the noble classes and turf wars with the Harpies, The Saints, live on these streets, and by whatever means necessary, they do what the boss and king of the Lottery commands. Steal. Kill. Plot. Smuggling Brillish drugs can bring the coin but only their boss can give them the type of comfort the upper classes deny them. Callem Clem offers survival but once you’re a Saint it’s until death. On the horizon, the noble classes fight for the thing they always want more of: wealth and power, specifically by means of the Adepts. Taken from the homes at birth, Adepts have magical abilities, all of which are commanded by their guildmaster.
The Saints are sent on a voyage to steal the source of his power. Together, a smuggler, a thief, a butcher, and a conniving card dealer band together along with a grumpy ex captain named Evelyn, on a swashbuckling adventure of murderous and nefarious intent. Gay thoughts are very much included.
This book reminded me how much I love books like the Princess Bride and King of the Swashbuckles, Monsieur Dumas. The gloom, the weird names only fantasy authors come up with, the assassins all dressed up in boots and a cloak, and thievery in the rain. The Butcher of Carrowwick. The Empress of Three Seas. Callem Clem and his Saints of the Wharf. That’s the stuff I like.
Many of these characters are messy, and as a neurodivergent person, I found that relatable and endearing. There’s just something about people having to do with cards they have. And, this group is the result of luck not being on their side. M.J. Kuhn gives characters having to do with their circumstances. What I love about this group is the care and love for each other, despite the tendency to squash their feelings by any means necessary—a bunch of sharp tongued, gold hearted pirates.
Among Thieves is one of those rare books that would appeal to both Adult and Young Adult readers. The plot is just one thing after another, and readers are bound to sink into Kuhn’s witty prose. For me, this would be one of those books I took on vacation.