Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: Thief Eyes

Thief Eyes
By Janni Lee Simner
Publication date: April 27, 2010

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector. When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.
My review:

I've always enjoyed fairy tale retellings. In this case Thief Eyes is a modern take on Njal's Saga, one of the Icelandic sagas. I know nothing about Icelandic myth and very little about Norse mythology but neither does the narrator, Haley. She is descended from Hallgerd, a real character in Njal's Saga, on her mother's side. The story starts out with Hallgerd casting a spell so that she won't have to marry someone she doesn't love. The results of this spell echo through the book and affect Haley's life. After Haley finds the coin Hallgerd used in her spell she is caught up in a quest to end it. Throughout the journey we get to see glimpses of Norse mythology and meet some of its characters.

I really liked the character of Haley. She has a lot to deal with emotionally-her mom is missing, her dad is burying himself in his work, and she finds out a shocking secret about her parents. Then she gets pulled into Hallgerd's spell and she shows real bravery and courage in very frightening circumstances. She is joined on her journey by Ari, the son of her dad's colleague Katrin. Ari is an interesting love interest for Haley. I liked how he respected her. Rather than having Ari play rescuer, Haley comes to his aid a number of times as well. Haley is drawn to Ari from the moment she meets him even though she already has a boyfriend back home. Thankfully this does not lead to the usual angsty love triangle and I thought the ending was realistic and fitting.

I loved the way Janni Lee Simner combined elements of the Icelandic sagas with her own story. It reminded me of what Nancy Werlin did with the Celtic legend of The Elfin Knight in Impossible. I enjoyed being introduced to mythological characters like Muninn the raven who holds memories and Freki the fox. Hallgerd was not a complete villain and some of the other helpful characters weren't completely "good" either but that is normal for mythology. There is always a catch involved when someone offers you help and there are usually ulterior motives. The setting was also beautifully described, especially Thingvellir where the story begins. Janni Lee Simner has some useful links on her website including some breathtaking photos she took when she visited Iceland in the summertime. I recommend looking at the photos to get an idea of what Haley would have seen during her stay. I thoroughly enjoyed Thief Eyes and thought it was an interesting and well written tale. Thief Eyes would appeal to fans of Impossible and those who enjoy reading about magic, folklore, and mythology.

9 comments:

  1. I love the concept of this book! I haven't been reading much mythology related books lately, but they've always interested me. Glad to hear that you liked it!

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  2. I hadn't heard of this one, but I love fairy tale retellings!! Nice review!!

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  3. fantastic review! i saw this in a bookstore the other day, but decided against buying it (since i bought two other books already :|) now i regret not doing so! it seems like something i'll really enjoy

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  4. Great review! I'm so excited to read this.

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  5. Sounds like a book for me! Great review! I'll add it on my list!

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  6. Very good review! Thief Eyes is sitting on my TBR pile. I'm very excited to read it, I love retellings and this one sounds very good. If you liked the Norse aspect, you might what to take a look at Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls.

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  7. This seems intriguing. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. This sounds really good! I'll have to add it to my TBR!

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