The Shadow Thieves Review
The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu is the tale of young girl Charlotte and her cousin Zachary (aka Zee) who become embroiled in a plot to take over the realm of Hades. Set in the modern day US and England (the US city is never mentioned, but it is clearly Minneapolis, for those who care), it is mostly a third person telling of events as seen by Charlotte, Zee, Zee’s grandmother and the villain of the story, Philonecron.
The story is distinctly young adult, in that the protagonists are early teens who must save the world even though the authorities (including their parents) will clearly not believe them. I found the book somewhat refreshing in that the traditional aspects of young adult offerings (dating/social life) were pretty minimal. As I expected based on previous writing by the author, the explanations of events past and present was lively and entertaining, using a style similar to The Hobbit – of course we know, but the heroes are in a tight spot, which makes thinking a bit more difficult. Overall, the book was an easy, entertaining read. The first book in a trilogy featuring the two teens and the Greek pantheon, the book is clearly stand alone, which is appreciated.
On the down side, the book does not present the story in chronological order, which is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that things the omniscient reader would know from a strict chronological ordering can be kept hidden until the end of the book, providing some suspense and mystery that is entertaining. The weakness is that it is sometimes difficult to determine when the events described took place. Perhaps this is intentional since the trilogy is titled the Chronus Chronicles, but it made following things somewhat difficult in places.
The other item that was surprising and marginally disappointing was that being familiar with Ms. Ursu’s alter ego Bat Girl, I expected the word ‘ass’ to appear. It did not.
Overall, I give this a 6 on the Nicholas-Schogol scale. I might recommend it as a better choice than, say, anything in the ‘Teen Paranormal Romance’ genre. However, the characters and story were not sufficiently intriguing to rate better, though the writing itself is strong.