Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Midnight Thief

Midnight Thief

Livia Blackburne
For ages 13 and up
Disney-Hyperion, 2015   ISBN: 978-1423194613

Ten years ago Kyra was a little child living on the streets of Forge, a city where the lives of the haves, the “wallhuggers” is very different from that led by the ordinary people. Back then she struggled to survive in the poorest part of the city. Then Kyra was befriended by an older boy called Flick who taught Kyra how to put her nibble fingers and climbing skills to good use; the girl became a thief and now she is so good at what she does that she able to pay for a room in an inn.

Kyra still lives with the uncertainty of not knowing where her next coin is coming from, which is a difficult way to live. Then one day she is hired to steal a jewel from a home that is located at the center of the city, in the heavily guarded Palace compound. Kyra manages to get into the room where the jewel is kept but it is not there and she returns to the client empty-handed. The man, James, does not seem upset and he pays Kyra even though she did not deliver the jewel, which she finds puzzling.

Later James seeks Kyra out at the inn where she lives and he invites her to join the Assassin’s Guild, a secret organization whose members take advantage of “opportunities as we see them.” Often the guild is working against the Palace because, as James puts it, “the Palace serves money and privilege” and it uses laws to its own advantage. At first Kyra refuses James’ offer, but after guards employed by the Palace rob and beat Kyra she decides to throw in her lot with the guild.

Tristan is a squire who will soon become a knight. He has his life all planned out and is looking forward to returning to his home in the country, where he will serve in the road patrols. One day Tristan and his best friend Jack are patrolling around the edge of the city when they hear the sounds of violence. A farm is being attacked by Demon Riders. Headstrong Jack dashes off to the rescue and is killed by one of the Demon Riders’ steeds, a huge, ferocious wildcat. In the aftermath of this appalling event, Tristan decides that he cannot simply leave Forge when it is being threatened by these terrible enemies, and so he volunteers to work for the Ministry of Defense.

In the beginning the work that Kyra does for the Guild is well within her purview. She secretly gets into the center of the city and maps everything out, taking note of the weaknesses in the security measures that are in place. She also steals documents that James asks her to get for him. Then she takes a group of guild members a warehouse where medicinal herbs are stored. During the theft Kyra accidentally kills a guard. She was holding a knife to his throat and then, somehow, the knife went in. Horrified by the fact that she is turning into an assassin, Kyra tells James that she cannot work with him anymore. Which is when he reveals his true colors. James threatens Flick and Kyra’s other friends if she does not do one more job for the Guild, and this time he wants her to kill one of the Council members.

Kyra has no intention of killing the man, but she has to at least go through the motions as if she does indeed intend to do as James wishes. This time her break in is discovered and she is captured. Kyra fully intends to keep her silence about James, to protect her friends, but then James arranges to have Kyra poisoned while she is in custody. Kyra almost dies and when she recovers she finds that she has gone from being threatened by the Guild to being threatened by the Council. Once again she has to do someone else’s bidding to save the lives of the people she loves.

This remarkable novel takes readers on a journey that is full of surprises and moments that are appalling and at the same time fascinating. Once they have started reading, readers will feel compelled to read on, to find out how Kyra and Tristan save themselves from the manipulative powers that want to make use of them.