Little Thieves by Margaret Owen: Book Review

Hey all! Seeing as this is a book blog, I figured I should probably actually write a book review. You know, because that seems like a pretty important part of a book blog. And I haven’t actually done this in a while (when was the last time? July???) Whoops. Anyways, I got Little Thieves for Christmas and really enjoyed it, so I thought that this may as well be my first book review in a while!

Little Thieves | Margaret Owen

Published October 19, 2021

500 pages | Hardcover

Trigger warnings: Child abandonment, sexual harassment, poisoning (if you’re unsure if there’s a trigger, you might want to check someone else’s trigger warnings because I’m bad at this)

Vanja Schmidt looks after herself. Abandoned by her mother at age 4, she was adopted as the goddaughter of Death and Fortune, who raised her for some time until they left her to become Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant. But when Vanja’s godmothers reappear and demand she train under one of them as a price for their care, she knows that she needs to get out. So Vanja steals Princess Gisele’s place and begins a life as a princess, all while thieving from nobles and stocking up for a way to get out of this country and away from her godmothers’ grasps for good.

Vanja has almost reached the money she needs for freedom when she robs the wrong people and is cursed by a god to turn into jewels one by one unless she can figure out and complete the god’s riddled answer for how to break the curse. Not only that, but she’s stuck with the god’s daughter as a guardian and a junior detective on her tail who is eager to figure out who’s been stealing money. And she has two weeks before she turns into gems for good.

All summaries are my own unless otherwise stated. Parts of the summary may be borrowed from goodreads.

Wow. I knew I was in for a treat with this book after loving Margaret Owen’s first series, The Merciful Crow, but I just had no idea how much! Little Thieves is based off of the tale The Goose Girl, which I know very little about, but it did not at all stop me from enjoying this book.

The world and the plot were both beautifully done in this story, as always, but what I think really stood out to me was the characters. At the beginning of the book, Vanja is utterly by herself, posing as Princess Gisele and navigating the world as a noble while simultaneously stealing from the rich who she parties with. She’s clever and trusts no one. But as the story goes on, we meet more and more people and slowly she has a whole little group to work with and begin to trust.

I think that my favorite character was probably Ragne. Ragne is the daughter of the god who cursed Vanja, and she’s sent to watch over Vanja as she attempts to solve her curse. Ragne is definitely a bit of comic relief, because she’s a shape shifter who has NOT spent a lot of time in a human body or talking to humans, but she’s also the first person who Vanja really spends time with and trusts, and that was nice to see how she and Vanja started to get along.

Okay, the plot of this book is great, and I don’t really know where to start because there was just so much of it! There were a few times when I was halfway through or a little farther than halfway, and I would wonder ‘okay how is this not the climax’ but it kept going! And don’t worry, it made logical sense that it continued, and it was still very enjoyable. Still, I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next, and a lot of the characters were really clever or had different sides so it was very difficult to figure out what might happen or where the story was going! Plus, there were a lot of exterior forces at play, for example Vanja’s godmothers who she did NOT want interfering with what she was doing, so it felt like a twist could happen at any time.

I do feel like the world could have been explored a little better. It’s clearly set in a fantasy world, but we’re given a lot of names and not a lot of explanation for those names. Vanja wants to escape from the place where she is (city? country? see how little I know), and she keeps mentioning places she might want to go, but I don’t know anything about those places and it was a little frustrating. Even within the story and where she was at the moment, things were still a little foggy.

This is the kind of book that 100% needs a map, and I actually went back to check if it had one, because it really seemed like it should, but it doesn’t, unfortunately.

Still, even though the worldbuilding was a bit underdeveloped, and I’m kind of disappointed in that aspect because it seemed like an awesome world, I just knew nothing about it aside from names of places, I’m not going to take off any stars or anything because of that. For me, worldbuilding is always a bit of a bonus rather than a necessity. Obviously I need something, a book can’t be set in a totally undescribed setting and world, but as long as I know exactly where the main character is at any given time (for example: castle, marketplace, etc), I’m okay.

PS can we take a moment to appreciate the amazing artwork in this book? This book is separated into chapters, it’s also separated into different parts (part one, part two, part three) but it’s ALSO separated into different ‘stories’ which are different from the ‘parts’ in a way that I cannot discern. Still, at the beginning of each story (there are seven of them throughout the book), there is a page that depicts a scene, and the art is absolutely lovely.

Want to read a few other reviews of Little Thieves? Check some out over at Pages Unbound and Becky’s Book Blog!

Have you read Little Thieves or The Merciful Crow? Do you know the story of the Goose Girl? What did you think of my review?