Thank you to Usborne Publishing and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson
Release Date: March 31st 2022
Tags: Middle Grade | Fantasy | Song Magic | Friendship | Union
Trigger/Content Warnings: Grief of a Parent | Grief of a Loved One
The Island of Morovia is shaped like a broken heart. The humans live on one side of the island, and the alkonosts – the bird-people – live on the other. But it wasn’t always this way…
Linnet wishes she could sing magic, like her father, Nightingale – and bring the two sides of her island together again. For her land has been divided by a terrible tragedy, and Linnet has been banished with her father to the deepest swamps, leaving behind her best friends, Hero and Silver.
So when her father is captured, Linnet must be brave and embark on a treacherous journey. Through alligator pools and sinking sands, she finds new friends. Yet without her singing magic, Linnet discovers something even more powerful. Something that could save her father, and heal the broken heart of her island once more…
I’ve heard great things about Sophie Anderson’s middle grade books so I was quite happy to pick up The Thief Who Sang Storms for review. I didn’t love it as I hoped I would but that doesn’t change that I can see what appeals others to her writing. And I will still pick up other books by her for sure.
The Thief Who Sang Storms follows 13 year old Linnet who has been living in the swamp for the last 3 years. Ever since the flood and the death of the queens the island has been divided. The alkonosts, the bird people, are being prosecuted for using their singing magic. When Linnet’s father gets taken she is determined to free him.
This book has a wonderful setting of three islands that float over the ocean in different directions, sometimes coming close, sometimes moving away from one another. Each island has its own people. Morovia as the Alkonosts, bird people who can use singing magic. They took humans onto their island hundreds of years ago. It is a beautiful setting, whimsical in places. But it felt like not enough was done with it.
I wanted to really settle into this story but I was constantly yanked out by the many chapter memories we got thrown into every few chapters. Some where a good addition but others could have been trimmed down to a paragraph memory in the previous chapter. It felt too much like a formule. Two and three chapters with the ending with a set prelude to the memory. It ruined the flow of the story to me.
It was also very idealistic. The solution, the forgiveness, always seeing the good in others. I know this is middle grade and fantasy but a bit of realism would have been nice. Kids of this age, especially in this era, aren’t stupid about repurcussions.
On the other hand I liked how it dealt with some themes. Like grief. How you can’t rush grief and how everyone grieves in their own way. Or how important it is to talk with each other about feelings. That parents can sometimes close off from their kids with their grief and feelings but that it is important to talk with your kids about it. But there is also no judgement towards the parent. I loved that. Because there are the themes so many kids these days have to deal with.
So all in all I do think it is a good middle grade to recommend for its messages but a bit less for the execution of the story.