Title: Gifted Thief
Author: Helen Harper
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Gifted Thief is the first book in the Highland Magic series.
I received a digital copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Helen Harper and HarperFire!
What I did like: The book’s blurb was very fascinating and it struck me as unique. Truthfully, I’ve only read a handful of books regarding the fey; still, the idea of a Sidhe thief appeared to be promising. The fey mythology used in this book could have been a lot better, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the author’s take on it. Also, I found it refreshing how the Sidhe are classified into Clans rather than Courts. The faery culture integrated into the book was noticeably different from every other fey story I’ve read.
Although the storyline itself wasn’t particularly compelling, the author kept me curious enough to keep reading until the last chapter. However, I had plenty of issues, struggles and frustrations with this novel.
Fair warning: The rest of this review may contain mild spoilers. Proceed with caution, should you choose to continue reading.
Lewd sexual innuendos: Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge, huge practitioner of double entendres and the like (
Just ask my friends. I dare you.). I’m the kind of girl who appreciates a good “That’s what she said” quip and can easily laugh off dirty jokes. However, the attempts at flirting, seduction and sexual humor in Gifted Thief was of, in my opinion, very poor taste. A number of them were not only thinly veiled but also inappropriately timed.
I cursed and unzipped the bag. ‘How did you get out?’ I complained. ‘I thought you had to wait until I rubbed the blade.’
Bob thrust his hips forward. ‘Uh Integrity, you can rub my blade any time.’
And may I just mention how irritating it is that Bob the genie keeps referring to Integrity as “Uh Integrity.” Yep, that’s right. There’s always an “Uh.” Like what is that even supposed to be? A moan? A sound implying hesitation or indecision? SERIOUSLY, JUST WHY.
World-building: I was so disappointed with the world-building in this story. Mainly because there wasn’t much world-building to begin with. Instead, I was forcibly fed facts that I was expected to digest. What do I mean? Well, in the story, there’s a noticeable divide between the Sidhe and normal humans. However, there is no explanation as to why that is. I was given no account of their history and how their community was formed. Why Clans among the Sidhe even existed was also not elaborated on. All we have to work with is this:
Byron straightened his shoulders. His green eyed gaze held mine until I felt trapped. ‘Long ago, checks and balances were put into place to prevent any one Clan from gaining an overly advantageous hold on the flow of magic. The four strongest Clans were each granted a key, if you like, to the Foinse. Unless all four keys were used at once, then the Foinse couldn’t be touched.’
He gave me a strange look. I was pretty certain it was along the lines of ‘you’re an absolute idiot for not already knowing this’. It was hardly my fault old Bull hadn’t permitted me an education. And Sidhe lore wasn’t exactly a concern of Taylor’s. ‘Source,’ he said finally. ‘The Foinse is the source of all Scottish magic. And it’s failing.’
Also, there were plenty of pop culture references in the book, which didn’t really make sense to me. I mean, I found it weird how there were casual mentions of The Incredible Hulk, Klingon and the like. Since the world-building wasn’t really established, I felt confused. There were no mentions of technology such as cell phones, televisions, or even cars that suggested a modern day setting. In fact, I’m pretty sure they traveled via horseback. So why did the characters know Star Trek?
The story’s heroine: Ultimately, my biggest frustration was the main character, Integrity. She’s awful – awful personality and awful sense of humor. She makes the crappiest jokes at the most inappropriate situations. Seriously, I was not amused. Not even a bit.
I pulled away. ‘I have to get going. There’s a lot to do before I walk into the lions’ den.’ I met his eyes. ‘Why did the lion lose at poker?’
Taylor didn’t smile. ‘I don’t know.’
‘Because he was playing against a cheetah.’
‘I hate you, Uh Integrity.’
‘Sorry, Bob,’ I said, obviously not sorry at all. ‘Knock knock.’
Bob sniffed loudly. ‘Who’s there? Bitch.’
I gave him a serious look. ‘Raoul with the punches.’
‘Great.’ His expression wasn’t thrilled. ‘I’ll leave you in peace then.’
‘So I can rest?’ I punned. ‘But I’m too young to die!’ He gazed at me blankly. ‘Rest in peace,’ I tried to explain.
‘Is that supposed to be a joke?’
‘Obviously not a very good one,’ I muttered.
SEE, EVEN THE OTHER CHARACTERS KNOW THAT SHE ISN’T FUCKING FUNNY AT ALL. Not only did she say annoying things, but she also did a lot of things that drove me insane with vexation.
There was a set of grand doors at the end of the carpet. Byron stopped at them and turned, impatiently tapping his foot as I ambled towards him. He didn’t seem happy at my slow progress.
I was overtaken by a sense of mischief I rarely indulged. I stopped and took out my phone. Byron’s expression grew even more thunderous, especially when I took several selfies, flicking my hair and pouting at myself.
‘I’ll have some chicken soup sent up to your room. That usually helps.’
My eyes narrowed in disgust. ‘I thought you guys had been keeping an eye on me. Don’t you know I’m vegetarian?’ I had no idea where that came from. I loved bacon. I must have been trying to goad poor Aifric Moncrieffe into more grovelling.’
Oh and Integrity was constantly being difficult on purpose. Even when they were trying to be patient and nice to her! It was completely immature, reckless and bloody irritating.
A girly girl? I liked Hello Kitty and hot pink and sparkly nail polish. But pigeonholing me was unfair; I also liked science fiction and scaling high walls without a rope. Why did men always think you were either a tomboy or a princess? I was possible to be both.
And that, my friends, is a prime example of a half-assed attempt at feminism. I mean, seriously, was this supposed to impress me? Was this supposed to make me care more about Integrity’s character? And honestly, since when did liking science fiction make anyone a tomboy? Really, she was putting labels on herself.
In summary: I badly want to believe that this book had potential. It did. However, the execution was very poor and was not well thought of. Did I enjoy reading this? No. Did I hate it? No. Would I read the sequel? Probably not.
Excerpt from the book:
‘We’ll head out for the Foinse straight after dawn. It takes about a day to get there. We’ll arrive in the grove by midday Tuesday so if all goes to plan, you can be back home and sleeping in your own bed by Thursday night.’ Something sparked in his eyes. ‘If you wish, I can tuck you in.’
Byron was obviously irritated and was trying to intimidate me and put me in my place. I quashed down the lustful butterflies that sprang up my stomach and licked my lips. I twirled my fingers through my hair and moved closer to him, brushing against his body. The answering tension in his muscles brought me deep satisfaction.
‘Don’t,’ he growled.
I stepped back. ‘Then stop trying to flirt with me. We both know that moment has passed.’