Two orphan boys, Bo and Proper, escape from their evil aunt to the city of Venice. In Venice, they come under the protection of the Thief Lord and his gang of orphan/delinquent children. They live in an abandoned cinema hall and depend on the Thief Lord for everything.
Prosper and Bo’s evil aunt manages to track them to Venice and there they hire a private investigator to bring them back. They plan to adopt Bo, but leave Prosper in a boarding school.
Meanwhile, the Thief Lord gets an opportunity to pull of a huge heist, the proceeds of which could once and for all take care of all the children’s needs and end their rather hand-to-mouth existence.
However, the Thief Lord has his own secrets that almost tear apart the gang. The private detective is hot on Prosper and Bo’s tracks; and everything that could go wrong with the heist goes wrong.
Can they all make their fortunes? What happens to these children? Are Bo and Prosper caught and delivered to their aunt?
Well, you gotta read the book to find out
My thoughts on this book:
I read The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke as part of completing the Young Adult reading challenge.
I was surprised to find that I quite loved this little book. It is Cornelia Funke’s first novel; so there are a few places where the book is all over the place. However in spite of this, I found this book compares quite favorably with her far more famous Ink series.
I found The Thief Lord to be a very neat and concise book. The pace does not flag; and the page count is just right for the story. The Ink books could have done with some editing.
I loved that Venice is the setting for this story; it provides the perfect fantastical backdrop. There is also an almost Dickensian aspect to the story. I could see the parallels between the street children thieving on the streets of Venice and and the street thieves in Oliver Twist. When I read Oliver Twist as a child, I was enchanted by the concept; and I think the same enchantment carried me through for this novel as well.
I also loved the characterization of Prosper and Scipio (the thief lord). Bo is somewhat annoying and childish though; he blurts secrets out every time getting all the other children into hot water, and throws tantrums at all inappropriate times. I think he really was in need of a spanking.
Another aspect that I loved was how all the children stick together during tough times. At times, it would have been easier for them to give up on Prosper and Bo; but never is this option even seriously considered.
All in all; a great book for some lighthearted reading and channeling your inner child!
Note: I have classified this book as a Fantasy novel. Although this is not hard-core fantasy, there is an element of magic and a fairy tale-ish quality in the book (I have not revealed it in my review because I quite enjoyed the surprise and hope you will too) that prompted me to tag it as a Fantasy novel.