Review: “Thief’s Covenant” by Ari Marmell

Title: “Thief’s Covenant”

Author: Ari Marmell

Genre: YA, fantasy

Release Date: February 2012

Summary: Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city’s aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon’s underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It’s not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it’s hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon’s political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she’s built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don’t finish the job first.

☆: 4/5 stars – a great YA fantasy debut!

Review: This is a very charming bit of alternate-world YA fantasy. In an alternate-France, a thief wanders about, trying to deal with a trauma from years ago…with a god stuck in her head. In a world where there are 147+ gods in the Hallowed Pact and that people worship, Widdershins/Adrienne Satti the Thief tries to deal with making ends meet AND trying to appease Olgun, the god that accompanies her everywhere invisibly. Marmell does a wonderful job creating this alternate world where anything and everything can and does happen, and I really enjoyed it. “Thief’s Covenant” is the first in a new fun new series about a thief, her wacky adventures, and how a dangerous past just might catch up to her in the process.

What I loved the most (aside from the Big Reveal that we get to see at the end of the book, setting us up for book 2) about this first installment in the series was the worldbuilding. Marmell does a fantastic job of setting us up in a world that feels a lot like Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel” series (but is far, far more tame) – an alternate France-based world where gods and humans wander around together, and there are so many patron gods and rich houses you can’t even count them all. Only 147 of them are named in the Hallowed Pact, a religious cease-fire of sorts that allows everyone to worship in peace.

But if your god is not on that list…watch out. And that’s exactly what Widdershins/Adrienne has to deal with.

Marmell gives us the past and the present in alternating chapters, keeping us guessing in terms of how Widdershins came to be (instead of just being Adrienne Setti, fallen noblewoman), how Olgun came to ride along with her as she thieves to make her living, and how all of it comes to collide when the high priest of the Hallowed Pact (he’s kind of like the Pope in our world, I guess you could say) comes for meetings about keeping that spiritual cease-fire in place. Marmell is awesome at worldbuilding and I completely felt at home within this world. However, there were some repetitive chapters that could have either been cut or intercut with other chapters that had the same subject matter. That took my enjoyment down a significant notch, hence, only four stars. (That and there were some areas that were more telling than showing, but since the last half of the book he really improved in the showing instead of telling area, I’m willing to forgive it with the explosive ending.)

Overall though, I really enjoyed this first installment – Marmell keeps us guessing. Nothing is as it seems – nothing. And no one is safe. He’s not afraid to kill his darlings to get results, and the results are definitely awesome. I can’t wait to start the second book (out from Pyr June 2012) – he’s set us up for more of Widdershins and Olgun on the run, but with far more serious consequences. At the end of book one it feels like Widdershins/Adrienne, once her backstory is complete, has definitely lost all innocence in terms of carrying around Olgun with her, and what that means to everyone else who upholds (or is trying to undercut) the Hallowed Pact. What that will mean in book 2, I can only guess, and Marmell has kept my interest enough to the point where I’m definitely excited about book 2 and all of its possibilities.

“Thief’s Covenant” is out now from Pyr/Prometheus Books in hardback and ebook forms. This is one of the more creative YA fantasy books to come out this year so far so it’s definitely worth the read! Be sure to check it out when you can.


One thought on “Review: “Thief’s Covenant” by Ari Marmell

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! « birth of a new witch.

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