By Lian Tanner
Published by Yearling / Random House
SBN 978 0 375 85978 6
The city of Jewel is the perfect place to live. Or so those running the city would have its inhabitants believe. All the children in Jewel are controlled and educated by the Blessed Guardians, nun- and monk-like protectors who watch over every child until the age of 16. Each child is chained to its parents or to one of the Blessed Guardians until his or her Separation Day, when the silver guardchain is cut and the wearer is given freedom.
Goldie Roth is about to have her guardchain cut, and is overjoyed at the prospect. She has never done anything alone, and longs for the day when she can walk about the city without a parent or a Blessed Guardian at her side. But on Goldie's Separation Day, a bomb explodes in the city, and the unchaining ceremony is cancelled. Goldie, determined to gain her freedom at any cost, manages to cut the chain, then takes advantage of the pandemonium and runs away.
Lian Tanner's Museum of Thieves starts with an interesting premise and steadily builds up an exciting chase and coming-of-age story that younger fans of fantasy adventure will thoroughly enjoy. Tanner doesn't take long to establish Goldie as a young heroine with a strong rebellious streak, who is very able to take care of herself.
And then there's the eponymous museum. The Museum of Dunt is a mysterious, shadowy building, and Goldie doesn't quite know how she has ended up there after being chased by the Guardians. It is as if the museum was expecting her.
Once inside, Goldie is befriended by Sinew, the museum's keeper. It soon becomes clear that mysterious forces have brought Goldie here for a purpose. The museum, with its ever-changing rooms and shape-shifting corridors, is home to all the fears and perils that have been banished from Jewel over the years. But what part is Goldie to play?
Tanner creates an enticing world and a thrilling plot in this fun, intriguing read. There is a lot of action here, and some of the story threads will be picked up in forthcoming sequels. Tanner's characters are stereotypes that even young fantasy fans will have met before, but that doesn't seem to matter as the plot races along, piling one mystery on top of another.
The book gets through a lot in its 300 pages. It might have moments of unoriginality, but it certainly covers a lot of ground and packs in a fair number of thrills as it speeds towards Goldie's next adventure, City of Lies.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com