Thank you so much to MacMillan – Tor/Forge, Tor Books for the e-ARC of An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass. Provided through NetGalley, all opinions are my own!
An Illusion of Thieves is a refreshing new young adult novel about a sister and brother who must first learn to coexist, and then foil an attempt by a rival group to start a civil war.
The description from GoodReads:
Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.
Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic
So I really enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons, first being that I am sick of romance in young adult novels. This book instead focuses on a first tentative, then beautiful slow burn hate to love relationship building between Romy and Neri. They form a real sister and brother bond and eventually while reading, it dawned on me that Neri is the true central character. I love how he goes from criminal angst to finding a purpose, then is able to function as a fairly reliable member of a group, thanks to Romy and the weaponsmaster.
The magic system is also pretty cool, where each person’s magic seems to be more of a more innate talent. Romy can wipe and reorder minds, others can read steel, some can smith magically… I felt like they all had Skyrim-esque skill sets that were magic, except those people were considered dangerous as sorcery is illegal in the world.
The world is also fantasitcally built, in what felt like an old Roman style. The rings of the city were clearly described, as was the political situation. Also the cruelty described in the book felt SO real – the sniffers for example. There are a lot of messed up things going on against magic users. I felt like I was wading through the crappy morale of the lower city with the rest of the rabble. Now if you like a long, intricate description of political intrigue, this will be your book. I can fully appreciate what Glass did with the political structure, but the book slowed down SO much between say 45 and 70% that she lost me a little bit. Then at the end, the heist felt a tad bit anticlimactic and left me wondering if it couldn’t have been a little more exciting, although the painter….the painter! I love his magic the most!
I definitely love the characters though and can not wait for book two. The crew will be involved in an even bigger scheme this time and I am so absorbed in the political aspects that I will be interested to see how the threads of the bigger world struggle all tie together.
100% Recommend for fans of fantasy, young adult fiction, heists, political intrigue, and a good group of characters! Thank you again to Tor for the opportunity to read the book early!