In Cornelia Funke’s children’s novel The Thief Lord, mysteries and legends come to life.
Venice, Italy, a place of amazing structures, fantastical legends, and secrets waiting to be unlocked. Beneath the watery city streets are unknown canals and secret passages concealing that which does not wish to be found. It is the perfect place to hide…
Prosper and his younger brother Bo, orphaned after their mother’s passing, escape to this mystical city after running away from their horrible aunt and uncle.
Here they are taking under the wing of a young boy called the thief lord who leads a band of other runaways that steal in order to survive. In an old boarded up theatre with their new friends they make their home.
But just as Prosper and Bo start to feel safe their aunt and uncle arrive in Venice looking for the brothers in the hopes of taking Bo as their own and sending Prosper to an orphanage.
If that weren’t bad enough a secret that the thief lord has been keeping from everyone comes to light creating a great rift between the band just as they are hired by an old Conte for their toughest job yet. The Conte wants them to steal a wing. A lion’s wing.
Gaining new allies in the form of the private eye hired to find them and a local photographer, the brothers will discover an ancient secret of Venice that may aid them in escaping their aunt and uncle…or pull them apart forever.
Thoughts on The Thief Lord
This book shows just as much love for the characters as it does for the city the story takes place in. Venice itself is a character. Like a friend it hides the brothers and their friends while also concealing many mysteries and dangers in its watery depths.
This is the book that made me fall in love with Venice. With the immense description of the city’s buildings, back alleys, and secret canals I felt as though I had seen Venice with my own eyes.
With all its hidden passages and legends of magic around every corner Venice is truly the best setting for a story of runaways, and Prosper and Bo are the kind of runaways you route for.
I loved them immediately. At six Bo couldn’t be more adorable, and even at twelve Prosper seems so grown up. My heart melt at how well he takes care of his younger brother and how close they are.
Their relationship is present at every part of the story and it really makes you hate their aunt and uncle. They are quite vile people, which is wonderful because then they make the perfect villains.
The other members of our band of runaways include Hornet, one tough girl who refuses to tell anyone her real name, Riccio, a young boy who dreams of being as a good a thief as their leader, and Mosca, a boy with dreams of getting a boat and finding his father who disappeared years ago.
And of course there is their leader Scipio also known as the thief lord. A very charismatic teenager who really does care about looking after his friends, even though it is his secret that nearly tears them apart.
I won’t say what that secret is (you’ll have to read the book to find out) but it was timed perfectly in the story with the theft of the wing, and it really added a lot of emotional turmoil to people’s lives that were already difficult.
For anyone who thinks children don’t feel pain as much as adults just read Riccio’s reaction to the betrayal he feels when he finds out Scipio’s secret.
The private investigator Victor hired by Prosper’s aunt and uncle to find them and the photographer Ida were excellent allies to the children.
Ida gives them help and insight about the wing they are meant to steal, and Victor ends up aiding the brothers (because he can’t stand their aunt and uncle either).
Of course everything culminates with the finding of the wing and the discovery of what it is really used for. Something that brings Prosper and Scipio together as it could give them something they both want. But then the question becomes for both of them is it really what they need?
This story is one of friendship and love. How family is more than just those that are related to you, and how children oftentimes understand things better than adults.
You’ll cheer for Prosper and Bo, and grip the edge of your seat as they and their friends are taken on a magical journey in an already magical city. And at the end of it all reunite with their friends as they all find exactly what they need: a family where they are loved.
My Recommendation: Ok so I guess this is officially a children’s book. I didn’t know that, not that I care. It’s definitely suited for children, though probably at least eight or nine and up. Again my “and up” includes all ages all the way to one hundred and beyond. Parents read with your kids!
Author: Cornelia Funke
Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
First Released (in English; originally written in German): 2001