Kuray is a sprawling fantasy metropolis of opulent mansions and squalid slums. It is here that seventeen-year-old thief named Wyn plies her trade. Once an orphan and a street urchin, Wyn has built herself a life and a family of sorts with her gang the Tallywags. There’s the kindhearted forger Desmond, cunning con artist, Mellon, and a laconic military veteran, Fergus. After they successfully complete a spectacular burglary, Wyn and her fellow Tallywags are contacted by a crime lord named Quinn. His offer is deadly simple: either they commit a series of seemingly impossible heists in two weeks or they face Quinn’s wrath.
Ostensibly a fantasy novel, THE THIEF’S TALE is, above all, a heist story. Its joys come from following a crew of people with a very particular set of skills as they swindle and steal from rich and powerful, all the while thumbing their noses at the entire system. As a burglar, Wyn is a virtuoso of a craft in which quick thinking, fast reflexes and a bit of (mis)fortune can literally make or break a person. And while that would have made for a perfectly enjoyable read by itself, author Joel Manners doesn’t hesitate to expose the darkness underneath this seemingly breezy, swashbuckling story.
Life is cheap in the crooked alleys of Kuray, with no justice and precious little mercy. Wyn’s childhood was one of agony and fear. Even as she’s trying to forget about her past, she is fully aware of just how fragile and perilous her life as a Tallywag really is. Wyn is not only this novel’s main character, but also its heart and soul. And as THE THIEF’S TALE unfolds, Wyn is being slowly corrupted by the circumstances outside her control. The end of the novel can be easily read as either a hard-won triumph or as a heart-breaking fall from grace.
While THE THIEF’S TALE is a standalone novel, it takes place in Martyr’s world – a shared fictional universe in which Joel Manners already set several other novels and stories. Considering the author’s eye for detail and his sense of action and drama, this reviewer can’t wait to experience these other tales as well!
In THE THIEF’S TALE, Joel Manners delivers a thrilling and exhilarating heist adventure that doesn’t shy away from the shadows lurking underneath.
~Danijel Štriga for IndieReader