Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Child Thief by Dan Smith

As big as my TBR is, you have to know that I'm adding to it all the time. New books are hitting shelves every week and I read your reviews. In June, Stacy (the Bookbitch), reviewed Dan Smith's The Child Thief, saying it was "Sure to appeal to fans of David Benioff and Tom Rob Smith." So of course I had to add it to my must read list!

The Child Thief was released in hardcover on June 1 from Pegasus and in e format from Open Road Media just a few days later. My recent lack of sleep offered up the perfect opportunity to jump into the e edition and so I joined Luka and his family in the Ukraine in the wee hours of the morning, instantly finding myself drawn into their story.

It is 1930 and the remote village of Vyriv waits in tense fear for the arrival of the Red Army. But it isn't one of Stalin's soldiers who breaks apart their town. It's a sick and dying man trudging through the snow. Luka and his son find the man, barely able to stand, dragging a leaden down sled. Upon examination, Luka discovers the man has been dragging the bodies of two children, one of which shows signs of unthinkable mutilation. The man is in such bad shape that there's no way for him to tell his own tale or come to his own defense so Luka, a parent and a former soldier, sets aside his suspicions for the meantime and takes the man into his own home to recover. The people of the village are not so willing to wait. When they get word of the man and the dead children, they demand immediate justice. In the wake of their actions it is discovered that one of their own has disappeared. For Luka and the people of Vyriv, the nightmare has just begun. 

There's a lot going on in The Child Thief. First and foremost is the cat and mouse game between the child thief and Luka. Then you have the town's fear of the Red Army who have been seeking out small villages like theirs and enacting punishment - whether deserved or not - for crimes against the country (crimes like providing food and shelter for your family before the collective). The setting is harsh both in terms of time and locale, which adds immensely to the tension of The Child Thief.

If you enjoy fast-paced and well-plotted thrillers (historical or not), I highly recommend adding Dan Smith to your to try lists. Benioff is in my TBR as we speak, but I can confirm that comparisons to Tom Rob Smith are definitely appropriate!

Rating: 4.5/5


Georgette Spelvin said...

Becky, this is my first time here, and I'm enjoying your blog a lot.

I loved THE CHILD THIEF, too. I know you'll love the Benioff; I read CITY OF THIEVES when it first came out, and I still think about it. A wonderful book.

Becky LeJeune said...

Thanks, Georgette! I just recently bought CITY OF THIEVES, so it's in the stack :) I'm really looking forward to it.