Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publishing Date: 12th November 2020
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Mystery, Sci – Fi & Fantasy
A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the acclaimed author of The Psychology of Time Travel.
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…
Four sisters have formed in 1820 a company making dolls. But not your usual dolls, oh no, every single one of them has been given an enchantment, a specific feeling that the owner of the doll could feel when picking it up. The so – called sorcery (the laying of the enchantments) is a privilege that only those born in, or married into the Kendrick’s family possess, although now it’s a solely male privilege. 19 – year – old Persephone, a shop assistant, wishes with all her heart to be acknowledged and recognized as a doll maker and sorcerer – but she’s only allowed to work at the shop, processing orders. But then Larkin arrives – a stranger who claims not to be a stranger at all but a long – lost relative and they both start a friendship that could be to both their benefits. However, shortly after his arrival, the family’s most valuable doll, made in memory of one of the founding sisters, Jemima, is stolen. Rumours and suspicions start to spread through the Eyot. Who is the thief? One of their own? Or the legendary Thief on the Winged Horse?
It is not the genre that I usually read but after reading and absolutely, totally enjoying Kate Mascarenha’s debut novel „The Psychology of Time Travel“ I simply couldn’t say no to „The Thief on the Winged Horese“. I had great expectation from this book, that’s true, but I’m also happy to report that the expectations were met! So there.
The author can create brilliant characters, and no matter if you like them or not, you just want to keep reading about them, to get to know them, to see what’s going to happen. They all have colourful personalities – and names as well. Though, because of relatively many of them being introduced to us, I had a feeling they are a bit too superficial and also, because the plot itself was so strong, they dissolved a bit among the vivid and thrilling events. Nevertheless, there is enough information to get those unique figures and their motivations.
Kate Mascarenhas is also great at storytelling and cooking up the most intriguing plots. The whole secrecy and the doll making business were so intriguing and so refreshing and I kept forgetting that the story is set in the modern day Oxford, it was sometimes confusing to be honest because the atmosphere of this story and the whole idea were indicating at older times. There was simply something archaic in the story, I’m not sure what, the atmosphere? The magic? The doll making? The way the characters behaved and talked? Can’t tell you exactly what it was but the moments when they took their mobile phones or travelled by tube were brutally bringing me back to reality.
The ending, though, felt a bit too rushed and hasty for me, which is a shame really, I’d love the story to be folded more neatly. It is also a rather slow – burner, though with the beautiful and captivating writing it didn’t feel like that, and also the author kept her focus on the family’s personal problems, which added so much tension to this book. And, of course, me and my super – duper detective skills, I didn’t guess the thief. What I’d really, really like more is the magical side of things. I mean, they could infuse the dolls with all kinds of emotions, and that’s great. But – why? How come? Why this kind of magic? And why so little of this in the book? It felt a bit like an addition, like an after – thought while in fact the story was built around this magic. I did have a feeling that the subplot with the Thief on the Winged Horse is a little too underdeveloped and the end needed more fireworks, the potential was not capitalized compeltely but on the other hand the way the book was written, the world the author has created and the ability to bring the sense of place and situation is extremelly well.
„The Thief on the Winged Horse“ was a great mix of reality, fantasy and mystery. Very atmospheric and the Thief legend was fascinating. However, the author also touches about very present issues, such as domestic abuse, alcoholism, sexism and feminism, to name only a few. It sometimes gritted with the overwhelming feeling of magic but nevertheless, Kate Mascarenhas has written a refreshing, unique and imaginative story that I enjoyed immensely. Highly recommended!
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR: