TITLE: Thief With No Shadow
AUTHOR: Emily Gee
GENRE: Fantasy, Adult, Romance
RATING: 3/5 Stars
Melke is a wraith, which means she has the ability to walk unseen. After being forced to steal a necklace, she is hunted down by the victim of the crime, Bastian sal Vere. He explains that the necklace was strung with tears, and that without it, Bastian cannot break the curse that is destroying his family. He orders Melke to regain the necklace, in exchange for her brother to be healed. But she had given the necklace to the salamanders, the fire breathing creatures that live underground. She must risk her own life. Meanwhile, Bastian becomes involved in solving a brutal murder of a young pregnant girl in the town of Theirry.
What I Liked:
- In a way this book had it's own sort of charm. It was interesting to read a Fantasy that focused on a small section of the world it's set in, and I thought the setting, story and writing had real potential. Despite it taking me a while to get through this and the simplicity of the story, I never found myself getting all that bored. Also, I grew a massive soft spot for Bastian's doggy companion, Endal. Seriously one of the best animal companions I've read in a book for a long time!
What I Disliked:
- I just really wanted to see more from this book. There was such a small amount of development! In terms of the world, Gee hints at a much bigger one but can't quite bring herself to explore it all that much. I know it's not meant to be a huge, epic Fantasy but would it kill to have some different customs and not make the only notably magical thing about the whole book weird, sexual magical creatures (which happened to produce some of the strangest rape scenes and sexual imagery ever). I'm really sad that Gee's world had so much potential yet didn't even come close to being fully realised.
- The story, while not bad, was not exactly exciting. In fact, it became pretty predictable as most of it was set in a farmhouse or the nearby village. Because of this, some readers won't be a fan of the pacing either: it was slow. The most notable example being Hantje's thirty chapter recovery (seriously...nothing happened while he was unconscious), most of this period was spent watching everyone do their household chores. I understand that it was supposed to be time dedicated to Bastian and Melke's relationship and character development, but I didn't really feel like an awful lot of that happened either, which was disappointing considering that this story is clearly supposed to be character-focused.
- The ending came as a bit of a disappointment to me. While it was nice to finally get some action going on, it all felt a little bit pointless and no one really seemed to get much of a happy ending (despite Gee desperately trying to convince us otherwise). In fact, Gee herself expresses her disappointment with how the curse is resolved through Bastian's classic 'Was that really all I had to do?' moment. If you have to ask that question then you know that you need a slightly better ending. Of course the fact that he realises that after it's all too late makes it even worse...
I don't really know how much I expected to be impressed by this book but while I didn't hate it, I certainly found myself disappointed. It had an element of charm to it (mixed with a dash of gross) and there were a few nice moments in Gee's writing style, but I wish she'd let her imagination roam a little more freely! The story was too simplistic, the world underdeveloped and the characters lacked in a fair few areas, choosing instead to follow a set pattern of emotions (Anger/Hatred > Guilt > Redemption > 'Happiness' which I'm putting in quote marks because I'm not convinced). There's supposed to be romance but really there wasn't all that much and the ending left me feeling frustrated.