Title: The Thief on the Winged Horse
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 12 November 2020
The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.
Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn her ancestors’ craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.
But then, one night, the firm’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…
I first took notice of this book because of the intriguing and whimsical title plus the beautiful cover and I’m pleased to report the book is every bit as brilliant as I hoped. The story follows a few different strands revolving around the magical and mysterious Kendrick family firm. They are doll makers that have the ability to imbue their dolls with a specific emotion using sorcery. On the night of a masquerade party their most valuable doll is stolen and the story unfolds from there.
I can honestly say I have never read anything like The Thief on the Winged Horse. It is so original, so unusual and fantastically eclectic. The world appears to be the real one but there is a darkly mysterious and intriguing magic present with which the characters are obsessed. One of the main players is Persephone, a young member of the illustrious Kendrick family who is desperate to learn the secrets of magic. The doll workshop was founded by four sisters, however in the present day only men are allowed to learn the craft of sorcery. I wasn’t expecting the feminist aspect of this book and I absolutely loved it. There are numerous complex and strong female characters and I was 100% rooting for Persephone from the very beginning. Actually all the characters are incredibly fascinating and learning how they intertwine whilst uncovering the history of this strange family business is so interesting.
The Thief on the Winged Horse is beautifully written with an understated and slightly quirky elegance which I found completely enchanting. You kind of have to just give yourself up to the oddness and the unusual feel of the writing and let yourself be carried along. It is an absolute gem of a book which is quite hard to put a label on. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend especially if you like mystery and magical realism.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.