The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice by Stephen Deas
Review by Joshua S Hill
Good books are hard to come by these days, and so are bad books, funnily enough. Sadly, though, mediocre books are a dime a dozen, and they all seem to find their way to me.
‘The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice’ by Stephen Deas is another example of mediocrity that shouldn’t have been let past the editor’s desk, but somehow did. Already you can tell I didn’t really like the book, and it won’t get much sunnier if you keep reading.
Which is a pity, because at the very core of this book was the possibility for an interesting story. All the right ingredients were there, but somehow they were put together in the wrong order and with inexperienced hands, creating what can only be called a very soggy and misshapen cake, or book, depending on how far we’re taking this analogy.
The story follows young Berren, once a thief of unknown age between 12 and 16, who is only a thief for about 3 and a half pages before things go wrong. He is taken by a thief-taker in the city of Deephaven as an apprentice. There is a mystery to solve, a pretty girl, and bloodshed.
But all of that is thrown against the wall like the proverbial pasta to see if it’ll stick. And it doesn’t.
Sometimes authors push a little contrivance to make their stories work. On a small scale, you can allow it. When the entire book is one contrivance after another, you find yourself groaning and skipping large chunks of the book.
Much of this book was just confusing, as well. From paragraph to paragraph, page to page, and plot-point to plot-point. It read as if the author didn’t bother to actually re-read his own work.
Then you have the personalities and emotions of the characters. Young Berren seems to find any excuse not to tell his new master anything at all which would have seen this story finished much quicker and my head hit the pillow before midnight. Master Sy gets really angry for very odd and, many times, inexplicable reasons. Nothing is explained, everyone acts entirely unrealistically, and by the end of the book the characters you have been reading have as much depth as a sheen of water on the driveway.
My biggest issue, however, was when for two chapters in the entire book the author jumps perspective. This is a book that is taking place from within Beren’s head, but all of a sudden – for two very small chapters – the author can’t seem to find a way to depict what takes place without jumping into another characters perspective. I once read that that is a mark of poor writing, and I have to agree, as I literally groaned out aloud.
If you have a spare three hours and know how to skim and skip through a book, then maybe pick this book up. If it’s half price. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.
For me, this book had so much potential and I leapt into it with high expectations. I completely agree with Deas; all the right ingredients were there, something just went wrong... From the beginning, the story was unravelling from the pages, and not in the interesting, gripping way of an unfolding story, but as a piece of cloth fraying at the edges. I found the book leading me from one disappointment to the next, and though there were elements of the story that I enjoyed, they were few, far between, and not particularly well-constructed. Do not judge this book from its cover; its definately not as good as it looks.
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