The Working Title women offer their thoughts on The Rose Thief by Claire Buss.
This is an engaging romp whose wild inconsequentiality had me in a little bubble of laughter throughout. It’s an avowed homage to the late, lamented Terry Pratchett, but is none the worse for that. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t ‘fan fiction’ by any stretch of the imagination. The author takes us on a journey of her own making, peopled by a cast of the odd, the weird, the insane and the downright creepy – all of whom, one hopes, grew from her imagination. I’d hate to think the poor woman knows them all in the ‘real’ world.
To précis. Somebody is stealing the Emperor’s roses. This is Not A Good Thing – and Ned Spinks and his band of thief-catchers are tasked with apprehending the thief. Or else.
The story jumps along happily, although I did sometimes think plot got a bit sacrificed for jokes. But. Hey. Jokes, and funny ones of those.
The writing is crisp and clean and my only caveat there is that I did, once or twice, get a bit muddled by exactly whose head I was in at any given time. Although that’s only a minor blot on the escutcheon of a truly talented writer.
I very much enjoyed this book and I really hope Ms Buss has more of the like in her locker. Four and a half stars rounded up to five because I’m a Pratchett fan too. Highly recommended.
Sir Terence Pratchett would Approve!
‘Surely a state dinner would mean all dignitaries so not only Lower Circle and Stalls but all the Guild Heads as well.’
The roses in the Emperor’s garden are being stolen one by one. That means the Rose of Love that someone stupidly imbued with all the love in the world, could be next. And if the Rose of Love is taken then all love would fade away too.
Enter Ned Spinks and his trusty band of Thief Catchers – a sprite called Jenni, a firefly called Sparks, a wood nymph called Willow a slacker called Joe and even a mermaid, Pearl. Together with friends who are allies, but might really be enemies and allies who are allies and maybe friendly – and enemies who have to be allies and might one day be friends, the Thief Catchers of Rosehaven set out to catch the Rose Thief.
‘Ned looked around for Jenni, she was kissing a frog. He sighed. Ten to one the frog was a prince from some far flung land who had upset the sprites.’
I loved this book. It has humour, adventure, romance and fantasy and the same kind of warmth that Pratchett achieved so effortlessly. The characters are fun and worth getting to know, the setting is marvellous and unfolds like a flower as the story progresses.
The humour is both obvious and laugh-out-loud and subtle, in either a slowly spreading smile or even a muted groan kind of way. It plays on fantasy tropes and it also brings in real-world oddities – such as the way the place officials are named after seating in the theatre.
‘Sometimes it was comforting to be around what you knew and right now Willow needed root, trunk and branch to comfort her. Sparks stayed in the office. He was too buzzed to go outside right now.’
To my mind, this book has only one flaw. The head-hopping. The story is told from Ned’s perspective – except when we hop into the head of whoever else at any moment and with no warning – twice in the same paragraph even. Sometimes the humour of the moment carries it, but often it just spoils the flow of the book and on most occasions, IMO, it added very little to the narrative.
That one issue aside this is a perfectly wonderful book and I can not recommend it highly enough to those who enjoy Pratchett-esque fantasy.