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The Thief Lord    by Cornelia Funke order for
Thief Lord
by Cornelia Funke
Order:  USA  Can
Scholastic, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Prosper and Bo escape from the home of their horrible aunt and uncle in Germany and travel to Venice, a city that their late mother often described to them. There they hook up with three street children, who live in an abandoned movie theater and support themselves by selling items brought by the 'Thief Lord', thirteen-year-old Scipio. Scipio doesn't live with them and appears to be hiding secrets of his own.

Victor Getz is a detective hired by Prosper and Bo's aunt and uncle to find the boys. It doesn't take him long to catch up with them, but by that time the kids are embroiled in an adventure. The group has been hired to steal a mysterious item for an old Count. What happens next is a mixture of excitement, magic and intrigue. The only thing for sure is that in the end, nobody will ever be the same again, after a magical venture through the alleys, waterways, and islands of Venice. The plot is intricate and flows so seamlessly that it's hard to believe the book has been translated into English from the original German.

I originally listened to The Thief Lord as an audio book, which was enthralling. Reading it gave additional depth and meaning to the story (I highly recommend both formats). A map of Venice is included at the beginning of the book so that readers can follow the children through the city. It's easy to sympathize with Prosper and Bo's plight at losing their parents and then having to live with relatives who don't care about them. But readers will also be envious of the adventures these boys experience and wish they could hop into the story along with them.

The Thief Lord is one of the best books I read this past year. The combination of elements of many genres - mystery, fantasy and adventure - is one that appeals to a wide variety of readers of all ages. I encourage you to check out the magic for yourself.

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