Hello, everyone! Today is my turn on the blog tour for Thick as Thieves by M. J. Kuhn, which is the conclusion to the Thieves duology. Thank you to Julia McGarry at Saga Press for the invite to participate in the tour. The first book in the duology, Among Thieves, is available now, and Thick as Thieves will be published tomorrow, July 25, 2023.
Ryia Cautella, a.k.a. the Butcher of Carrowick, and her motley crew have succeeded in the ultimate heist…with the most dire possible consequences. A terrifyingly powerful tool has fallen into the hands of Callum Clem, the criminal leader of the Saints, who was already one of the most dangerous men alive. With the newfound ability to force magic-wielding Adepts to his will, he is unstoppable.
With their group scattered throughout the five kingdoms of Thamorr—and not all on the same side of the fight—things seem hopeless. But can Ryia get the gang back together for one last job? Or will chess-worthy power plays and shifting loyalties change Thamorr as they know it?
***Thank you to Saga Press for providing an advanced copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
The first book ended with the characters making a bit of a mess of everything. Each of them now had to deal with their betrayals, failures, and the serious ramifications of their decisions. The stage was set for an exciting adventure and an epic showdown between some major powers. On that front, this book delivered really well. The author did a fantastic job of weaving together a complex plot that spanned nations and took into account a huge number of personalities and factions. Nothing about this book was boring, and I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
One of my major complaints about the first book was a lack of depth to the characters. I didn’t really connect with them at all even though they were fun to read. They all had secrets and mysteries, but each of them felt a bit one note, almost like the mystery box and their assigned role in the group were all there was to them. Now that most of the secrets were out in the open, some of their baggage was explored a little deeper. In particular, Ryia, Nash, and Ivan had some beautiful and gut-punching scenes. Ryia had to confront the horrors of her past while also coming to terms with Evelyn’s influence on curbing her murderous tendencies. She came out of her struggles a stronger and more caring person, and I enjoyed the ending to her story. Nash and Ivan both had some pretty heavy family stuff go down in this one, and their stories definitely left me with some feelings. I will say this, though. It is absolutely criminal how little Ivan’s POV was utilized in this book. He had some of the most emotional content, and we only got his POV a handful of times despite a chunk of the book taking place in his homeland. I wanted so much more from him. Truthfully, I still wanted even more emotional depth from all of the characters, but there was a great deal of improvement from the first book.
The writing style was engaging and kept a tense edge that never really let up. Even in the quieter moments, I was always excited, and a bit worried, to see what would happen next, and a huge driving factor in those feelings was the energy and atmosphere created by the writing. There was also plenty of snarky banter, which always keeps me entertained. My only complaint about the writing was its overuse of certain phrases. I lost count of the times I read “twice-damned” in this book. If noticing the phrase was turned into a drinking game, I think everyone would end up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning long before reaching the end of the story. That phrase was everywhere. lol.
I loved the additions to the world-building. The characters visited new places and learned some fascinating things about the history of magic in Thamorr, which added a bit more context to the central conflicts of the plot. Several themes also added to the depth of the world and story, including freedom versus stability, forgiveness/redemption, and dealing with the shame and guilt from unintended negative consequences of one’s actions. All of the themes were thought-provoking. I just wish they’d been explored with a bit more nuance. With all the plot and action, there wasn’t really time to delve very deeply into the themes.
If I had to choose one word to describe this book, or really the whole duology, it would be entertaining. I was never bored. If you are looking for a story with morally ambiguous characters, a fast pace, engaging prose, heists, and plenty of exciting action, this duology might be for you. I just wish the characters and themes had a little bit more depth and room to breathe, but that didn’t diminish the blockbuster feeling of the story for me. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
M.J. Kuhn is a fantasy writer by night and a mild-mannered marketing employee by day. She lives in the metro Detroit area with her husband Ryan, a dog named Wrex, and the very spoiled cat Thorin Oakenshield. You can find more information about M.J. online at MJKuhn.com.