Sunday, May 26, 2013

YA book review: Thief's Covenant (Widdershins Adventures #1) by Ari Marmell

Thief's Covenant (Widdershins Adventures #1) by Ari Marmell
YA high fantasy*Hardcover/eBook, 273 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Pyr (first published February 14th 2012)

Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city's aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces-human and other-stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder. Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It's not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it's hers. But now, in the midst of Davillon's political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she's built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her-but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don't finish the job first.

Last year while I was at my local SCBWI Shop Talk meeting, I took in the shelves of book covers on display at the Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble where the group meets. Book junkies love going to book stores. The colorful colors beckon to be touched and jacket flap copy to be read, plus there's that new book smell and the opportunity to touch paper. On one of the rows I spotted Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell. After the meeting, I grabbed the book, recognizing the title from my Goodreads list of titles I want to read. I also remembered there was a second book available as well which I found. I went home a happy girl.

Ask me what one of my favorite YA fantasy series is and I'll tell you, this one. Nothing captured my imagination like Ari Marmell's Widdershins Adventures. The way Thief's Covenant was written with jumps in time and multiple pov's took a while to get accustomed to. When all of this clicked in place for me, I didn't mind it and soon grew accustomed. What may have become disjointed in the hands of a lesser talented author worked under Ari Marmell. The flashbacks helped fill in the story and always appeared when needed, even when the current story line was about to have something happen. 

I became fascinated with Widdershins, whom we discover was an orphan raised by an aristocrat but in her teens she lost her home and lived on the streets again. When she was known as Adrienne Satti, she led a good life. Then one night changed everything. Her family, herself, her name. Satti morphed into Widdershins, thief extraordinaire and general bad ass. She now has a reputation and she carries a secret, a fascinating living secret named Olgun, besides the memories of her past locked away somewhere.

The setting of Davillon with its people, politics, class system, City Guard and the Guild (which she belongs to), when brought together create a mesmerizing tale of action, adventure, despair, with a blossoming attraction. Widdershins herself is a walking dilemma, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, emboldened by a god in which she is his only believer, a murky, dark past which threatens to eclipse the present she's worked so hard to have, Thief's Covenant blew me away. The story captivated me and I shared an immense connection to her, bewildered yet scared for her life. The cast of secondary characters from big hearted Genevieve, flamboyant Renard, and voice of the law Bouniard, were all excellent and became cherished favorites.

Ari Marmell has created a fascinating new fantasy series for YA fans and fans of all ages to enjoy with his Widdershins Adventures. I loved Thief's Covenant and know this is one book I will be revisiting over time.

Rating: 5
Cover comment:
One word: excellent.

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