by M.J. Kuhn
Publication: September 7, 2021
**Sorry! This is kind of a long one.**
**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Group work is hard. It’s harder when it’s among thieves (yes, pun intended…heh) who follow the rules of the Lottery; you work as a team until you don’t, and then it’s every person for themselves. In M.J. Kuhn’s debut Among Thieves (2021), select members of the Saints form a crew to steal an artifact from the most powerful man in the world, the Guildmaster. Even as they formulate a plan together, each is also preparing to double-cross one another.
From the blurb, I expected the book to focus solely on Ryia. She’s a mercenary who kills without remorse. Forced to remain at any one place for only a short amount of time, she doesn’t let anyone get too close. Despite being on the run from the Guildmaster for six years, she is put straight in his path when she becomes part of the crew. While the book starts off with Ryia, I was surprised to find the chapters alternate between members of the heist. As someone who has only started to appreciate books with two, maybe even three, points of view, I was disappointed. Pages are taken away from learning more about the character who initially drew me to the book. Eventually, we learn more about the mysterious Butcher of Carrowick, but it takes a lot longer to get there.
The alternating points of view do bring with it some advantages. The other thieves are nearly as interesting as Ryia, carrying secrets of their own. Their chapters provide information on their backstories and their plans to make off with the artifact. It adds to the intrigue as it becomes a guessing game as to whether the team will succeed and who will come out on top. Additionally, the observations they make of the other members can be insightful and add to the twists of the story itself. Unfortunately, there were also multiple times when I forgot whose chapter I was reading.
The worldbuilding doesn’t feel like a vast brain dump with information provided from each character throughout the various chapters. However, a brain dump might have been helpful in this case with so many characters and a lot of moving parts. We learn about the various kingdoms and the general state of some of their affairs. We learn about the rival gangs in the Lottery, where most of the story takes place. The most interesting aspects of the world are who wields magic, both directly and indirectly, and how this affects everyone.
It took a while to get into the book mostly because it took a while to figure out what was going on. I didn’t have the patience with the story spread out among so many characters. It wasn’t until about halfway when the book picked up that I was truly invested. This was when I couldn’t put it down. This is when I knew my patience and perseverance were finally going to pay off. By the end of the book, it did!
Among Thieves is slow to start but builds to a compelling end with a crew that might have more growing between them than they realize. A lack of trust and communication impedes their ability to work together in the long run. Whether their self-interest can be overcome and whether they can continue to work together will be things I look forward to in the next book. While Ryia and her story may have been the initial draw, the ending has made it worthwhile to stick around to witness the outcome for each character. I look forward to the next book and to delving deeper into what I hope will be the tie that may bind our team of criminals together.