Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle. The brothers decide to hide out in Venice, where they meet a mysterious character who calls himself the “Thief Lord.” Brilliant and charismatic, the Thief Lord leads a ring of street children who dabble in petty crimes. Prosper and Bo relish being part of this colorful new family. But the Thief Lord has secrets of his own. And soon the boys are thrust into circumstances that will lead them, and readers, to a fantastic, spellbinding conclusion.
Thoughts: I first watched the movie, and after finding out that it was based on a book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. And I wasn’t disappointed; the movie stuck remarkably close to the book, so if you’re reading the book after you see the film, you’ll enjoy one as much as the other.
If there’s one place that fantastical YA and children’s stories tend to fail, it’s in their characterization of adults. Cornelia Funke’s novel does not suffer from this: adults gripe and grumble about things, feed their pets, smoke, handle guns, and actually act very much like adults instead of just obstacles in a kid’s path or else a convenience means to a kid’s end. Or like overgrown kids.
Except for Barbarossa. He’s definitely an overgrown kid, and that’s his character, so the author can’t be faulted on that.
The diversity of characters and the way Funke can portray complex emotional reactions and situations without going overboard in the prose is also something to be commended. The languaged used is simple, direct, and clear, and yes, it is a translation from another language into English, but I’m working under the assumption that it’s a good translation and therefore carries the feel of the original work.
The story is well-told, and you don’t even know that there’s a touch of fantasy about the book until near the very end, which works very well at adding to the credibility of the whole story. There’s magic, it’s real, it touches them for a brief moment and then is gone, but leaves a profound effect on all of the characters.
If you enjoy well-told YA/children’s stories, and/or you enjoyed watching the film based on the book, then you’ll love The Thief Lord. Don’t miss your chance to give it a try!