Book Review: ‘The Thief Lord’ by Cornelia Funke

Posted: 15 June 2016 in Book reviews
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Synopsis

Before Prosper and Bo’s mother died, she would tell them stories of the magical city of Venice. After her death, the boys are grudgingly taken in by their aunt and uncle. When the couple plan on sending Prosper away, the boys runaway to Venice.

In Venice, things don’t go as expected. They have no home, no food, no money. Luckily, they meet Hornet who takes them back to live with her and a few other orphans. The children are taken care of by Scipio, a boy who calls himself the Thief Lord and who Bo reveres. He steals stuff, gives them the loot, and they go to Barbarossa to pawn the stuff for cash. Prosper shows a talent for haggling and is put in charge of selling the loot.

One day, Barbarossa propositions a meeting between Scipio and a client known only as the Conte. He wants Scipio to acquire for him an ordinary looking wooden wing from Signora Ida Spavento. Scipio accepts and they prepare for the biggest hit of their lives.

Victor, an investigator employed by the boys’ aunt and uncle to find them finds the boys and reveals the truth of who the ‘Thief Lord’ is. The children feel betrayed and resolve to steal the wing without him. Naturally, the job is bungled and Ida discovers the would-be thieves. She tells them the story of the wing and the fantastical legend of a magical merry-go-round associated with it. She agrees to give them the wing on the condition that afterward they all follow the Conte to discover whether or not he has the merry-go-round.

If only it were that easy. With a persistent aunt and uncle, a dishonest Conte, squabbling children, and a moronic antiques dealer, the events that ensue could not have gone any less smoothly. Because of this, none of their lives will ever be the same.

My Thoughts

I have been a fan of Cornelia Funke ever since I found Inkheart many years ago. She is such a fantastic author, so when I found this book at Bookoff, it was a no-brainer to buy it. It was definitely a good purchase.

The story turned out different than I expected it to. Funke’s books typically have magical element to the books, but in the beginning this doesn’t seem to be the case with this one. The magic seemed to be the boys’ perception of their surroundings and the life they were leading. Then comes the twist and the magical element is introduced. I really didn’t see it coming and was pleasantly surprised. I loved the simplicity of the story and the twist.

I loved how individual the characters were. Bo is stubborn with his childish admiration for Scipio. Prosper is awkwardly serious as he tries to act grown-up to protect his brother. Hornet loves books, Riccio loves comic books, Mosca loves boats, and Scipio play acts like he’s so mature and grown-up (I won’t say more so as to not give anything away). But as they are still children, they are mistrustful of adults and when betrayed take it very serious. The funny thing is that the kids seem a bit more grounded than the adults. Ida enjoys adventure, Victor enjoys dressing up for his job, and the boys’ aunt and uncle are too eccentric to be likeable. Though I have to say that in any normal situation, the majority of people wouldn’t be so nonchalant about finding a pack of children roaming their house in the middle of the night trying to rob them. Quite odd, but is totally her character.

The book was well written. It was fluid and very easy to read. It as clearly written for a young teenage audience and the writing definitely reflects that. Additionally, it is not so simple that those of us who are older can’t enjoy it. It has vivid imagery and clear description and dialogue.

This book is great for young and old alike. It has no graphic content and has some great lessons about honesty. If you haven’t read anything by Cornelia Funke, this is a good book to start with. If you have read her books, be sure to add this one to your arsenal. Enjoy 😉

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