Friday, 15 February 2013
Review: The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling
No one performs on the circus trapeze like sixteen-year-old Remy Brunel. But Remy also leads another life, as a cat burglar and jewel thief. Forced by the evil circus owner Gustave to attempt the theft of one of the world's most valuable diamonds, Remy thinks it will be just another heist, but when she meets determined young detective Thaddeus Rec, her life changes forever.
Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Remy that he needs to save?
A highly skilled cat burglar stealing to order for her circus-owning boss? Cursed diamonds? A plot to take over London and the British Empire? A wonderfully atmospheric Victorian setting? I know I shouldn't pre-judge a book from its press release but this one sounded like it would be right up my street, and I was not proved wrong. It is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story with a pair of lively and completely likeable protagonists, who you will find yuorself rooting for almost from the very first page.
Remy Brunel is a highly skilled trapeze artist, and takes top billing in the travelling circus that has recently set up in London. People flock to the circus just to watch the amazing 'little bird' fly through the air, risking life and limb for their entertainment. Little do they know, that when the show finishes for the night, she is forced by the circus owner to head off into the city to use her skills for more nefarious activities. For Remy has become one of Europe's most skilled, and therefore most wanted, cat burglars. However, her greatest task to date may also be her last as she is tasked with breaking into the Tower of London itself, the prize being the fabulous Darya-ye Noor diamond.
Naturally things go more than a little wrong, and Remy finds herself on the run from the law, in the shape pf Thaddeus Rec, a young detectove who is himself on the run from his colleagues who suspect him of being the jewel thief. The lives of both of these teenagers suddenly become intertwined, and far more complicated than either of them could have imagined, as they find themselves reluctantly working together to track down the diamond and retrieve it from the would-be master criminal who now possesses it.
Remy and Thaddeus are both fantastic characters, and Sharon Golsing uses them both as main characters, with the focus of the story switching from one to another throughout the book. Remy is the better developed of the two, and we find out more about her past and her motivations, and I would love to have seen the same for Thaddeus, whose past is only hinted out. I hope there is a sequel so we can find out more about him, and how he managed to become a police constable.
There are also a handful of secondary characters, the most notable of which is the 'Professor', a man who seems to be a mentor and father figure for Thaddeus. The professor is an inventor, and the author uses him to inject a soupçon of steampunk to her story. By this I mean that the inventions he creates for Remy to use have a steampunk feel to them (i.e. they are technologically advanced for the time, but use Victorian materials and styling), but we are not talking about an alternate steampunk Victorian world.
I flew through this book as Sharon Gosling uses her skill with prose and plot to quickly pull in the reader, and I revelled in the multiple plot twists. The villain is a little sterotypical of Victorian criminal masterminds who want to take over the world, but young readers who haven't read many books in this genre will know, or even care about this. In fact, they will probably take great delight in wondering how Remy and her small team of friends will manage to foil his evil machinations.
The Diamond Thief is published by Curious Fox, and is I believe their very first book to hit the stores. It was published yesterday and is a great way of introducing 9+ readers to Victorian-set mystery and adventure stories. My thanks go to the lovely people at Curious Fox for sending me a copy to review.