This is a public service announcement from Reading Central. Megan Whalen Turner writes what is quite probably the best current series of books for young people. In any case, it is certainly my favorite. And while other authors put out a title every year—or in the case of James Patterson and his committees, a book every two weeks—Ms. Turner only publishes every four or five years, so when she has a new book, it is An Event. So, I am hereby announcing that the fifth volume of “The Queen’s Thief” series is due to come out this May.
Why am I telling you this now, rather than just writing a book review in May? Because you need to catch up! There are four books to read in the next two months, so get to it! I am just about to start re-reading the second one. In order, they are:
- The Thief
- The Queen of Attolia
- The King of Attolia
- A Conspiracy of Kings
Only the first volume, The Thief, seems to be a book for teens. The main character, Eugenides, who has been in prison for theft for several months, is suddenly yanked out into the screaming light of day and conscripted for a special mission with the Magus. A small group of men travel for weeks through rough terrain so that “Gen” can break into an ancient temple and retrieve a stone with mystical powers that can confer immortality on the sovereign who holds it, but can kill anyone who tries to steal it.
The setting is a group of small countries that resemble Greece several centuries after its golden age, with ruined temples and olive groves. So, although it has horses and warring monarchs, it is not at all like the scores of faux-medieval fantasies on the market. Furthermore, it is set in a re-imagined past, with bits of supernatural elements, such as gods and goddesses, but there are no vampires, zombies, or fairies. Rather, it is more a book of political intrigue. After The Thief, the series is more adult than teen, with marriages, diplomacy, spies, and assassinations. This is the perfect series for your kids who are advanced readers if you do not want them exposed to the more seamy side of young adult literature. The language is fine, there are no explicit sex scenes, and Turner does not seem to have an agenda of any kind. So refreshing! On the other hand, the vocabulary is rich, and the plot is complex and challenging.
Why is this the best series out there?
- Eugenides is one of the most incredible heroes in literature. He has likeable and unlikeable characteristics, is much smarter than he lets on, and is completely unpredictable. In short, he is wickedly cool.
- Nothing, absolutely nothing, is as it seems. You will be surprised. Turner’s writing is so complex and subtle that you will miss the hints she puts out there and will suddenly be shocked and need to go back and re-read. And…
- It completely stands up to re-reading. I just finished The Thief for the third time, and I picked up details that I had missed before. It is such a pleasure to read.
- It is appropriate for everyone, adults and teens, male and female. The only reason that tweens and younger may not be the best audience is because they may not understand it. Otherwise, it is fine for a family read-aloud.
I hope that is enough to send you to the bookstore or library. I was so thrilled to find out that I will have an opportunity to meet this author at SLJ’s Day of Dialog in May, and I hope to post a review of the latest volume, Thick as Thieves, before then!