Sunday 17 January 2016

Review: The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar by Tamsin Cooke

Schoolgirl by day, cat burglar by night.

Scarlet McCall thinks she has it all figured out. She and her dad are on a mission to return stolen treasures to their rightful owners. But when they take an ancient Aztec bracelet, her world turns upside down.

Dad goes missing, and mysterious powers erupt inside Scarlet. She's hunted by sinister people, who will stop at nothing to possess the bracelet. Searching for her dad, Scar must learn who to trust before it's all too late.

Three was the magic number for Bob Dorough, Blind Melon and De La Soul, and it's also the magic number for these new style Book Zone reviews, as part of my seemingly endless quest for brevity when reviewing. So, here are three reasons to love Cat Burglar, the first book in Tamsin Cooke's The Scarlet Files series.

1. Main character Scarlet McCall

I have often written about the popular misconception that boys do not read books with female main characters, and how fallacies like this can become self-perpetuating the more it is stated ( much like that oft proclaimed 'fact' that boys don't like reading). Well I would challenge any read, boy or girl, to read this book and not be excited by the adventures of Scarlet (aka Scar) McCall. Scar is brave and resourceful, but also frustrated that her father doesn't allow her to have more than a basic support role in the heists that he plans and carries out. By necessity, Scar's life has been relatively solitary, so her resourcefulness becomes even more important when her father is taken hostage, and she is left to carry out a daring robbery all on her own.

2. The pace

Cat Burglar is great, galloping fun; it is chock full of breathless action and has a plot that moves faster than a rocket full of monkeys. Short chapters mean that readers are sucked in and held tight, until before they know it they are turning the page of the final chapter. Definitely one of those books that is best read in a single sitting, and at only 220ish pages this is achievable for most confident readers, and even many who are less-confident.

3. The fantasy element

This would probably have been a good, entertaining read if it had been a straight heist thriller for kids. However, Tamsin Cooke injects an exciting fantasy element into her story through the ancient Aztec bracelet that Scar steals in the first chapter, and as Scar quickly discovers, this bracelet certainly ain't no trinket. Said bracelet endows Scarlet with strange new abilities, but are they a gift or a curse for our plucky heroine? 

Cat Burglar was published in the UK on 7th January, and the sequel, Mission Gone Wild, is due out in July. My thanks go to those fab people at OUP for sending me a proof copy to read.


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