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Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn – Book Review!

WHO NEEDS FRIENDS WHEN YOU HAVE AXES?

Ryia ‘the Butcher’ Cautella has earned her reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the city – not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.

A deadly secret has kept Ryia in hiding, running from city to city, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster – sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms. But even the most powerful men can be defeated.

One last impossible job is all that stands between Ryia and her freedom – but even the Butcher can’t do it alone. She teams up with the Saints, a crew of uniquely skilled miscreants, smugglers and thieves, to carry off a death-defying heist into the most tightly guarded island in the kingdoms – the Guildmaster’s stronghold.

Unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own . . .

I received a free copy for review from the publisher & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Morally grey characters, a f/f relationship, the wittiest of banter and a well developed magic system made sure that Among Thieves is going to make my top reads of the year. In the Lottery, survival of the fittest means everything, something that Ryia Cautella, The butcher, knows only too well. She has spent her life bouncing between cities trying to keep herself, and her secret out of the Guildmasters hands, so when a chance arises, an impossible job that could end Ryia’s need to hide, she knows she has to take the chance. Unfortunately, she can’t complete it alone. Tentative alliances are forged, but what Rhia doesn’t know is that everyone in her crew carries a secret, and every single one is after the artefact for their own goals.

Among Thieves, although largely Rhia’s story, is told from 5 alternating POV’s: Rhia, The Butcher has made herself well known as the assassin for hire controlled by Cal the leader of the Saints. She longs for freedom from the secret she has been hiding for years, and would gladly sell out every member of her crew to ensure it. She is snarky, sarcastic and has a heart made of stone, but the more time she spends with the saints, and a certain ex needle guard, the more chips start appearing.

Nash, is the self-proclaimed ‘Queen of the Sea’s.’ At over 6ft she is not someone to be messed with, and she does come across as hard as nails. After seeing her sister taken away to become an adept she has no love for the system, and is more than happy to help take the guildmaster down. Her reasons for being a member of the Saints are not well known, but there is a certain member that keeps catching her eye.

Tristan is another member of the Saints running from his past. He’s the baby of the gang, not really made for a rough life, and spends his days either pick pocketing the elite, or following the butcher round like a love sick puppy. When a rival gang learns his new name, Tristan has to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Ivan is the go to con man for the Saints. A dab hand at disguises, he is able to fit into most situations, and is just at ease with the elite as he is with the dregs that live in the Lottery. His reasons for staying with the Saints are personal, and once he realises what he could gain from taking on this job he jumps at the chance, he has a debt to pay and will stop at nothing to get it done.

And finally, Evelyn, an ex Needle Guard turned reluctant gang member, as an ex member of the elite she has the skills and knowledge to get the crew where they need to be and ensure they can fit in, she just needs to get over her hatred of them first.

As well as the above five ( who have my heart) we get introduced to a wide breadth of side characters, all of which have a part to play in furthering the story. Every single character in this book is morally grey, none are quite what they seem, and they all have their own agenda to further which leads to plenty of snark, banter and a little backstabbing. These are people who would quite happily sell each other to the highest bidder, but as the story progresses we get to see them open up to each other, start to care a little… who said there was no honour among thieves.

The world building was well done, the world is separated into different Kingdoms, but all are controlled by the Guildmaster as he is the only person in control of the ‘adepts’ people born with magical abilities. The adept are nothing but mindless slaves, but their abilities ensure they are a sought after commodity, making sure the guildmaster remains at the top of the pecking order. Their are two kinds ‘Sensors’ and ‘Kinetics.’ Sensors have the ability to sniff out danger whereas Kinetic are the brawn, the ones who you would definitely not want to meet in a fight. I’m hoping the second book will open it up a little more and give us slightly more information about the other Kingdoms, as this was the only part I found a little lacking.

I genuinely enjoyed everything about this book, morally grey characters on a heist to bring down the big bad guy, who all secretly have plans to turn on each other is my jam apparently. The magic system was really unique and really easy to understand, and the authors writing style easily dragged you into the story and ensured you were glued to the pages. There are plenty of plot twists to keep the story moving at a speedy pace, and the ending had me desperately wishing I had book two in my hands. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for us next.

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10 replies »

  1. Morally grey characters, a band of misfits, banter… yesss this book sounds like something I’d enjoy! Thank you for the lovely review Becky, I’ll definitely be adding it to my tbr!!

    Liked by 1 person

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