June 22, 2015

A Book of Spirits and Thieves

by Morgan Rhodes
358 pp.
Ages 12+
June 2015

For lovers of Morgan Rhodes’ high-fantasy series Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, 2012;  Rebel Spring, 2013; and Gathering Darkness, 2014) The Book of Spirits and Thieves will be especially welcome, melding the world of Mytica with contemporary Toronto and bringing together teen sisters and a book, a rich bad boy and a secret society, and a Mytican young man who wields death magic.  The Book of Spirits and Thieves is an intense multi-layered story that fuses the very best elements of fantasy and parallel worlds to make something even more enchanted and enchanting.

When seventeen-year-old Crys Hatcher opens a package from her vagabond aunt Jackie, her sister Becca touches the book within and falls into a coma.  Crys learns that the book had been stolen from Markus King,  and it was part of Jackie and Crys' mom’s payback plan for what he’d stolen from them, including Crys’ dad, Daniel.  Now Crys needs to learn all she can about that book and Markus King if she is to help her sister.  And that could mean reconnecting with her errant father.

Markus King, an enigmatic but powerful man, runs the secret club known as the Hawkspear Society that doles out murderous justice.  When nineteen-year-old Farrell Grayson whose seriously wealthy family belongs to the Society is recruited to Markus’ inner circle, he is tasked with becoming acquainted with Crys.  But society bad boy Farrell has other issues with which to deal, including his confused younger brother Adam and the suspicious suicide of his older brother Connor, a former inner cirle member.

Meanwhile in Year 15 of the Goddess Valoria’s Reign in Mytica, a young man named Maddox, gifted with the magic to communicate with spirits, is being exploited by his guardian/slave master Livius. They are both seized by Valoria who demands Maddox locate a specific young woman who possesses the magic the Goddess needs to retrieve a golden dagger stolen from her.  Though Maddox is unconvinced that he can control his magic abilities, a spirit named Becca (yes, Crys’ sister) assures him that he can do it, as well as help her get back home.

With Becca’s spiritual presence in Mytica and her physical body in a Toronto hospital, the contemporary world of Crys and Farrell is linked with the magical world of Maddox and Valoria.  How the two will converge is up to the skillful story-telling of high fantasy writer Morgan Rhodes.  In other words, there's a great story being revealed.  Within each world, young people are dealing with self-expression and understanding, trying to learn what strengths and weaknesses they possess, while navigating the treacherous waters of family and friendship and secrets.  It's pretty hard to develop complete understanding when secrets are being kept and deceit is the norm.  And questions about who has stolen what from whom abound!

Told in the voices of Crys, Farrell and Maddox, A Book of Spirits and Thieves provides no respite from action and complex plotting that are the trademark of Morgan Rhodes' writing.  There's a reason her books are repeatedly on New York Times best seller lists.  Look for this one there too.

BTW, a different cover of A Book of Spirits and Thieves is available in the U.S., if you see it and are confused by the difference.  Still beautiful, this second cover is more in keeping with the Falling Kingdoms covers, though I prefer the one that illustrates the melding of the contemporary world with that of ancient Mytica.

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