Welcome to my stop on the The Thief on the Winged Horse Tour! I am so excited to tell you more of my thoughts on Mascarenhas’ sophmore novel. I absolutely loved her first one – The Psychology of Time Travel, and it’s a book I recommend all the time, so I was so excited to be able to read her new book early and share my thoughts with all of you!
Goodreads Synopsis: The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. 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…
“Since 1820, Kendricks Workshop has made and sold magic dolls.”
absolutely loved the premise
There is something so unique about Mascarenhas’ stories and this was true for The Thief on the Winged Horse. I find the concept of a family that makes and sells magic dolls so cool. There is an air of whimsy that underlines this story and I quite enjoyed the way magic was interwoven into the narrative. There is a underling fae myth of The Thief on the Winged Horse in here, and I love how the myth sustains the family business, but also how the magic of the dolls feels more tangible and real, while the Thief feels more mythical and undefined. I felt like this allowed the existence of folklore within a world where magic is possible and I quite enjoyed that. I also quite enjoyed the way Masceranhas depicted the workshop and its hierarchy.
exploration of themes of privilege, power and family
The themes explored in this novel were really well done, and in a clever way. I really loved how the magic was depicted in this novel, because it was a metaphor for privilege. The magic of the dolls is limited to the Sorcerers, who are the only people who know how to lay an enchantment on them. And despite the fact that the business was founded by four women, sorcery had become a man’s privilege through time. However, Mascarenhas cleverly depicts how the magic in here is not about ability or any special skill even – it’s purely about privilege and knowledge. She uses sorcery to discuss how people in power hold knowledge hostage and refuse to share it with anyone, and then subsequently talk about skill and talent as if it’s the reason they have power. I really enjoyed that. Moreover, this novel explores themes of family and duty and belonging, and I quite enjoyed the way they were handled.
the characters were really interesting
The characters were quite interesting in here as well. Especially Larkin. I enjoyed both Persephone and Hedwig and I quite like how different they were but how they were both trying to establish there place in this family’s narrative and to gain respect, but in very different ways. Hedwig is really interesting because she is a morally grey character, who looks after herself first and I really like that. I especially enjoyed Larkin because he is awful, he’s one of those characters I dislike but appreciate their characterization, and I quite enjoyed reading about him. Overall, I found all of the characters to be interesting to read about. Plus, as with Mascarenhas’ first book, there’s a lot of queer rep in here!
some minor issues
The pacing did not quite work at all times. I did not mind it, but I do think that the book could have been shorter and still had the same impact and told the same story in a more concise way. I also felt like this book had all of these really great elements that were brilliant on there own, but they did not fully come together in a satisfying way at all times. One minor thing as well is that I did not fully get a sense of time with this book. It felt very Victorian at times, but then the mention of a phone would completely throw me off.
Nonetheless, I still very much enjoyed this story, and found it to be utterly charming and unique, despite these minor issues I had with it.
Like I said, I found the premise and the themes explored in here really well done, and I had a lot of fun with this novel. It was charming, with a sense of whimsy and it was a really enjoyable read that I would definitely recommend. If you are someone who likes contemporary with a magical twist, and quiet stories that explore larger themes of family and life, I think this book would be perfect for you!
*Thank you so much to Head of Zeus for including me in their blog tour and for the free review copy!
In the meantime, happy reading
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