I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 2 stars Series: standalone
WHO NEEDS FRIENDS WHEN YOU HAVE AXES?
Ryia ‘the Butcher’ Cautella has earned her reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the city – not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.
A deadly secret has kept Ryia in hiding, running from city to city, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster – sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms. But even the most powerful men can be defeated.
One last impossible job is all that stands between Ryia and her freedom – but even the Butcher can’t do it alone. She teams up with the Saints, a crew of uniquely skilled miscreants, smugglers and thieves, to carry off a death-defying heist into the most tightly guarded island in the kingdoms – the Guildmaster’s stronghold.
Unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own . . .
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
Every time a fantasy heist book is announced, people start going on about it being a “SIX OF CROWS” rip-off. What they actually mean is that the book has the main tropes of the sub-genre, and the marketing is leaning into it. Which is what you expect, given it’s a fantasy heist book. It needs a crew with assorted skills, just like any heist. It needs tension between the crew for an emotional layer. Magic will be involved, to make it a fantasy heist. And these things are great, they’re the staples people expect in the book.
Unfortunately, this book felt like it was leaning into the tropes too much without adding anything new. It made for a very predictable read. I knew what all the characters’ secrets were very early on, and I could venture a decent guess at what would go wrong and how they’d solve it.
This book is being sold as adult – you can tell from the publisher and where it’s being shelved in shops – but it really feels like YA because of the characters. Their ages are never mentioned explicitly, but working backwards you know they’re at least in their mid-twenties. However, some feel really immature, which is particularly off-feeling given their meant to be crooks and “street wise.”
My least favourite character, by a country mile, was Ryia, the lead. And she’s also the character who felt the most YA, because she’s such a stereotype. The badass fighter who’s cocky (the point of sounding ridiculous and making me clench my teeth) and is able to go up against far too many opponents and win. I mean lines like “was it possible to be attracted to a weapon? She was kidding, almost” just sound so dumb and fit neatly into that stereotypical character I never want to see again. It’s become so common they feel like cardboard cut outs of each other.
The pacing is OK, but I simply could not enjoy this book because I wanted to smash most of the characters’ heads together. They were either being ridiculous or stupid (because they managed to miss the very obvious clues about each other.) When a character disappears from the narrative for a long time, when they “betray the others”, you immediately know there’s more going on (and that he’s been silly too) because showing that POV would undermine the “reveal” later.
This book is clearly a standalone that’s been given an open enough ending so that another book could be written if it sells well enough to commission one (currently, no appearances of another being bought, but we’ll see once it’s been out a bit.) Unfortunately, that makes it a very unsatisfying ending. An obvious next-book set up is never going to feel complete and fulfilling if there isn’t another book. It honestly just feels like a cheap way to make people make noises about wanting a second book. It would have felt much better without the last two chapters (the obvious set ups) because then it would have felt like it actually ended.
2 thoughts on “ARC Review: AMONG THIEVES by M. J. Kuhn”
I’ll have to see what I think about it when I read it next mont. I didn,’t even know that it was shelved as adult.
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It’s definitely a taste thing – I know some people will love it, but it hit too many of my dislikes
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