In celebration of the upcoming cover release of Brenda Drakes second book in the Library Jumpers series Guardian of Secrets, I'm re-posting my review of Thief of Lies.
Thief of Lies
by Brenda Drake
First of all, a disclaimer. Brenda Drake is my Fairy Godmother.
Well, close enough. This talented and extraordinarily busy lady not only writes amazing stories, but also runs amazing Twitter contests for other writers. It was through her PitMad contest that I connected with my publisher, Champagne Books, and ended up having my debut novel Traitor Knight published. So thank you, Brenda, for helping me to achieve my dream.
Now, on to Thief of Lies.
First, the cover. L O V E it! There is so much going on there, and guess what? You DO just a book by its cover. The color, the design, everything, just makes me want to jump right into this book.
Right from the opening line (“ “) Brenda Drake creates a marvelously drawn world that melds the mortal and the magical with the great libraries of the world as the gateway between them. Books take us on journeys, right? Well in Thief of Lies, certain books serve as portals which enable people—and monsters—to transport between the Mystik and the human worlds, and young Sentinels are charged with guarding the portals and keeping the human world safe.
Gia Kearns, the main character of Thief of Lies, is accidentally drawn into one of the books when she unwittingly speaks the key that activates the portal. Along with her friends Afton and Nick, Gia finds herself in a library in Paris, beset by a supernatural hound intent on their destruction. Rescued by Arik and his band of Sentinels, Gia is returned to her home in Boston, but finds herself pursued by more malevolent creatures from the supernatural world. As she is thrust deeper and deeper in the world of the Mystik, Gia has to accept that there is much more to her own existence than she ever realized, and that her fate and the fate of both Mystik and human worlds are inexorably bound together.
Gia is a combination of spunky, stubborn, hot-headed, loyal, loving, and strong. She has her flaws, but also possesses a sense of honor and a fighting spirit that would do any knight proud. A wonderfully rounded character, and Drake can be very proud of her creation.
The companion characters, for the most part, were also extremely well done. A few fell a bit flat, but Drake gives most of them clear motivations and personalities that allowed them to be more than cardboard add-ons. Overall an A- here. My biggest negative factor was the sheer number of characters I had to keep track of—occasionally they ran together a bit, and I had to go back a little to figure out who was whom.
Gia’s love interests—Arik, the Sentinel who saves her in the beginning of the book, and Bastien, the young wizard to whom she has an unexpected connection—are both handsome, strong, brave, and kind to small animals. She’s definitely not starved for choices in the fields of love. But Drake frames Gia’s dilemma nicely and the triangle, unresolved at the end of the book, will no doubt lead to interesting conflicts in the next outing.
The rule of magic are well thought out and consistently applied, and while I would have loved to spend more time in the great libraries, the slam-bang action carried me along throughout the book. Gia faces dramatically high stakes which keep getting even higher. Epic swordfights and wizards duels manage to wreck several of the libraries, but Drake, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, postulates a group of Cleaners, adjuncts to the Sentinels, who “sweep up after the elephants”, as it were, putting the books back in order and deftly disposing of monster-guts. I loved this touch—nicely played.
Thief of Lies is targeted at the YA audience, and should do extremely well there. It also will resonate with any adults who enjoy good escapist, rollicking fantasy. The pace is breakneck, the characters engaging, and the world-building outstanding. I absolutely recommend this book.