Book Review: The Thief of Farrowfell

From the publisher:

Welcome to a fantasy world where edible magic is the hottest commodity, traded between those who can pay or – in the case of Jude Ripon, the youngest thief in Farrowfell – those who can steal it!

Twelve-year-old Jude Ripon has never been taken seriously by her family of magic-stealing masterminds. To them, she’s just the youngest, only good for keeping watch while they carry out daring heists. Desperate to prove her worth, Jude decides to steal valuable magic from the fanciest house in town . . .But Jude’s stolen prize was protected by a curse which threatens to wreak havoc on the family business. While attempting to untangle the mess she’s made (and wondering why anyone would want to curse an honest thief trying to earn a living), Jude discovers just how far her family will go to stay at the top of the criminal world.
Suddenly, her quest to become a true Ripon isn’t straightforward any more . . .

My thoughts:

This is a fast-paced exciting fantasy story with lots of twists and turns (many unexpected), hugely imaginative, great world-building, super characters and character arcs, and I thought it was great. Highlights in particular:

  1. Edible Magic – usually tastes disgusting. I really enjoyed this touch, I haven’t come across edible magic before, and I don’t think I’d like to try any of it! Of course, that is tamed magic (controlled and regulated). There is also raw magic (licenced practitioners exist to turn it into safer tamed magic), which is terribly dangerous. I love the contrast between the powerful raw magic and its terrible consequences versus the tamed blend, which gives this story a superb plot line.
  2. Jude – Jude is a super protagonist. Determined to prove her worth in a family of thieves lands her in a lot of trouble. Of course Jude has been brought up to value the family business and to live up to the Ripon name, which makes a lot of her commentary hilarious when she meets good kids Fin and Eri. Jude hates her sister Moorley who everyone seems to think is perfect, and I love how their relationship changes through the story.
  3. The Ripon family – Jude’s family is pretty terrible, but they have been badly affected by their activities. To give you an idea of how awful her relatives are, they all live together under her grandfather’s roof but he calls himself Grandleader – there is nothing paternal about him at all.
  4. World-building – this high-concept plot is brilliantly portrayed, with the use of tamed magic (legally and illegally acquired) and the threat from the monsters preying upon the people.
  5. Pace – excellently paced story with the right balance of action, humour, tension, character development and twists and turns right to the end.

If you like fantasy, I highly recommend this superb story, and I really hope for more adventures in this world. There are some darker themes (Jude is neglected by her parents, there are also addiction problems, one of the side effects of raw magic), but I think they are handled very well and suitably for the age group.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers Faber & Faber for the ARC. The Thief of Farrowfell will be published on May 4th.

15 responses to “Book Review: The Thief of Farrowfell”

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