ARC REVIEW: The Thief on the Winged Horse

“Happy is as happy does, my brother. If she dwelled on her misfortunes less, then less misfortune would befall her.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I was kindly gifted an ARC of this book by Victoria at Head of Zeus and I took a chance on this one because fantasy is not my usual genre. The book is out now, and I read the book last month in the lead up to its publication.

What Did I Think?

As I just mentioned, fantasy isn’t my usual sort of thing, but I decided to push the boat out and try something different as the blurb sounded too good to miss…

‘The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls are not 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.’

I really loved the concept of the book that combined doll making and magic. Doll making, in my opinion, is an old-fashioned art that isn’t done hardly as beautifully as it was in previous centuries. What Kate Mascarenhas does beautifully is take us back to a time where this art was celebrated and magically combines this with sorcery.

I loved the family history aspect to the story, and you can really tell how much thought must have gone into creating this community of doll-makers. Our main character, Persephone, is one I absolutely adored. I loved how strong-willed she was, but I also liked how the author made her naïve to her strength and the people around her, to make her growth more substantial.

A recurring theme throughout the book is women’s equality and I thought it was very clever of the author to raise awareness of gender inequality through the means of doll-making/magic. Obviously, the fact that dolls are women, but made by only men, highlights several issues that we can relate to in industries that exist today. Many of the male characters are sexist (some realising it and others not) and refuse to believe that women have the power, patience, and talent to create dolls or control magic.

“Those men don’t want to look at beauty. They want to look at something made for them, to confirm their desire is the most important thing in the world; they want their dolls like they want their women, a painted smile, no internal life of her own and you can blame her for your passions.”

Instead, the female characters within the book are only allowed to hold working positions such as household duties and retail. Persephone is no stranger to these inequalities and is determined to make everyone recognise her talent. Yet with an alcoholic father, and a mother who left her to make something of herself, it’s not easy for Persephone.

There were many uneasy characters in this book, and I loved how Kate made us believe that it could be any of them who stole the valuable doll.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and liked it more than I ever thought I would. My only issue was it took me a while to get into the book at the start is very slow to set the scene and provide the relevant background information. So understandably, the action doesn’t kick in for a while. Yet when the story does get going, it’s definitely one you wish you’d read sooner. 

The Thief on The Winged Horse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published: 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
# of Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy
Trigger Warnings: Alcoholism, robbery, family feuds, sexism
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

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