* Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me a gifted copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Title: The Thief on the Winged Horse
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Publication date: 12th November 2020
My rating: ★★★★☆
Goodreads rating: 3.89
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.
Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.
But then, one night, the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…:
There is something about the world that we are all currently living in – let’s not say the C word on here – that lends itself incredibly well to stories with magic flowing through its veins. Now while I read books such as this all year round, I have found this type of escapism to be exactly what I’ve needed to take me away from everything.
Initially I was hesitant, and I’m not at all embarrassed to say that dolls FREAK. ME. OUT. And dolls in books particularly, leave me with a cold sweaty dread that I struggle to shift. However, for some reason, I did not get that particular feeling in my gut when I read this wondrous book.
As with The Psychology of Time Travel, Kate once again has managed to create a world, while not all to different from our own, is innovative and magical, with strong characters and atmospheric settings. We have three main protagonists: Persephone, who is plagued by the break up of her family due to her father’s alcoholism. As a woman, she is not allowed to learn and explore her talents and skills, and is trying very hard to prove herself. The we have Hedwig, a ruthless, criminally minded housekeeper, who at the same time managed to come across as quite admirable. Finally we have Larkin, a skilled, mysterious man possibly intent on revenge?
What I found particularly interesting was the attitudes shared by the characters. They seem like almost an echo of values past: women’s roles, sexuality and the way that folks turn a blind eye to potential domestic violence. These values present as a commentary on values that are held in our world.
I really enjoyed this book, which pleased me greatly as I’d had a great experience reading Kate’s prior novel, The Psychology of Time Travel. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone that enjoys darker themes, toxic relationships, family secrets and magic.
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