Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review :: The Traitor and the Thief

The Traitor and the Thief - Gareth Ward

"A thief, a spy and a steampunk showdown at Traitor's Gate!"

This is a well-paced little number!  I whipped through it in a couple of days and for the most part, really enjoyed it.  A large part of my enjoyment was derived from how richly detailed and immersive the book is.  The descriptions are so good!  So many vivid pictures in my mind, so much atmosphere.  I am all for detail and it was so fun to slip into a completely filled-out, deliberately drawn, Steampunk world.  So fun.

The story contains a mystery, though somehow it doesn't at all feel like the centrepiece.  A lot of time is given to world-building, to the benefit of the novel (the world-building is just. so. good). But it means that the mystery somehow lacks oomph.  The outcome of the mystery didn't dazzle me.  In fact, the final sequences of the novel didn't dazzle me.  I still read feverishly, despite the hindering ? ?? 👀😕

Okay, I was all in with the setting and premise.  Fun fun fun.  But I was not so invested in the characters.  There's potential there for sure, but all of the major characters lack the warmth to make me really buy in.  Meanwhile, the minor characters are more familiar, like they could've walked out of a Dickens novel.  That said, I think I'm going to like the centrals, once I get to know them better.  Sometimes that's just the way with the first in the series.  I can accept that.

Okay, here's one thing that's super problematic for me.  Early in the book there's a bit of negative commentary around weight.  Zonda is ridiculed (including by Sin) for being overweight, and caricatured by her cake-eating habit.  I do appreciate that Sin becomes an encouraging friend and champion to Zonda, but again, his focus is on changing her - making her "lighter and stronger."  I mean, she's a trainee spy I guess, but still.  *There's a little more on this past the page break but it's almost a spoiler so #duewarning.

I'm holding out hope that there'll be some #radicalselflove and #bodypositive vibes in book two!  I should also mention that everyone ridicules Sin for being uneducated, and the terminology they use is not nice.  Come to think of it, there's a lot of meanness.  Is that par for the course with YA?  Probably, but I don't know why.  It's all #conditioning in the end, and sometimes norms are only so because we let them be.... < #deep #verydeep 😂

Overall I was engaged with the story & universe - I wanna go back.  I hope the next instalment lingers on descriptions in a similar way because this was such a strength!  There's a spooky magic and cleverness about it all, that never feels overdone.  Loved it.  Give me a little more character development and little less fat-shaming/meanness in book two and I'll be happy girl!

Review copy kindly provided by Walker Books

*I have a nasty suspicion Zonda is set for 'transformation', in order to be a legitimate romantic contender.  Goodness me, I hope I'm wrong.


  1. Thanks, for reviewing my book. I'm glad you liked it in the most part. When I wrote Zonda I didn't want her to be the archetypal, super-fit 'kick-ass' heroine that many y/a books seem to have. I was actually trying to demonstrate that it didn't matter what body shape she was, she could still be a hero. Yes, she does get fitter and stronger, because she needs to, but speaking for Sin, which I feel he would be happy for me to do, he had no ulterior motives other than wanting to help Zonda with the training. I can not comment on the potential romance side of things but rest assured Zonda will remain very Zonderish. I do take on board your observations and will try not to disappoint in any sequel. Cheers, Gareth

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It mustn't be fun reading reviews that point out something they found negative :-( I truly enjoyed this book and have already recommended our school librarian purchase some copies (my dad immediately stole my copy and may never give it back <--- steampunk fan). I do feel defensive of Zonda's curves (though I love what you've said about her as an antithesis of the typical heroine), and I hope she gets to keep some of them :-) We're very pro-curves around here! Very much can't wait for book two and what I'm seeeeeriously hoping will be a love triangle #pleaseprettyplease