**We were gifted an copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**
The year may be coming to an end but there are still some new exciting titles being released in these last few weeks before we bid farewell to 2020. On such book is the new release from Kate Mascarenhas, The Thief on the Winged Horse, which came out earlier this month following a slight publication delay due to Covid-19. I’m thrilled however to have been asked to participate in this special Blog Tour to celebrate Kate’s second novel and today it’s my turn to share my review. Thank you to Head of Zeus for providing me with a proof copy for review.
About The Book
The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.
Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn her ancestors’ craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.
But then, one night, the firm’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her.
Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…
Persephone works at her family’s doll factory, but the dolls she sells are far from ordinary and her aspirations reach further than the shop she is consigned to. For hundreds of years the descendants of the Kendrick sister’s have made magical dolls designed to evoke strong emotions in their owners using sorcery passed down the generations. Having once been something only females were able to cast, throughout the years women have been systematically side-lined whilst the men have kept the secrets of the magic to themselves.
When a mysterious stranger arrives claiming to be a long lost relative of a branch of the Kendrick’s thought to have died out years ago, everything begins to change. Despite a lack of evidence to support his claims this newcomer is welcomed into the factory on account of being male, and despite having to prove himself before the family secrets bestowed upon him the unfairness of the situation stirs something within Persephone.
However, her desire to learn the art of sorcery is suddenly cast into the shadows when the most valuable of the Kendrick’s dolls is stolen from right under their noses. Kept behind a locked cage The Paid Mourner should be impossible to steal due to the powerful magic it holds, unless of course it was an inside job. Perhaps the thief was one of their own, but the question is who?
Firstly I have to say that I went into this book expecting a much more fantastical story, however what I actually got was a mystery with a more subtle hint of magic. The story explored a lot more than I bargained for with the focus being largely on family, rivalry and the sexism and gender bias that exists within the factory’s hierarchy. Despite the story taking a different form to that which I anticipated I did really enjoy it; the beautiful writing style kept me turning the pages keen to discover what would happen. I did however find the story dipped in the middle making it a little slow, plus I did guess who the thief was (I am terrible for trying to guess whilst reading though!).
The atmosphere is really what made this book for me though as it felt quite dark and oppressive, in a good way, throughout. It’s set in modern day England, Oxford to be precise, however I regularly forgot that often thinking it to have been set in a more historical context. It’s something I’ve never really experienced in a book before and it was only the occasional reference to modern day technology that made me remember!
For me personally I would have liked to learn a bit more about the sorcery used by the Kendrick’s as I felt this was kind of skipped over leaving me with many questions and I would also have liked a little more added in there about the fae. However I appreciate this is just a matter of personal taste and possibly me misreading the context of the synopsis initially. The Thief on the Winged Horse is definitely an enjoyable, quick read though and well worth picking up. It’s an intriguing concept that explores so much more than the doll making at it’s heart.
**Please be aware if you are interested in picking up this title that is contains refences to domestic abuse, alcoholism, violence and infidelity.**
About The Author
Kate Mascarenhas is a writer.
Born in 1980, she is of mixed heritage (white Irish father, brown British mother) and has family in Ireland and the Republic of Seychelles.
She studied English at Oxford and Applied Psychology at Derby. Her PhD, in literary studies and psychology, was completed at Worcester.
Since 2017 Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Previously she has been an advertising copywriter, bookbinder, and doll’s house maker. She lives in the English midlands with her partner.
Author Links: Website
The Thief on the Winged Horse is available to purchase now from Amazon*