Children of the Fox (Thieves of Shadow 1)
From the bestselling author of the Blackthorn Key series, this magic-infused fantasy brings together a ragtag group of kids to pull off a crime so difficult, countless adults have already tried and failed. Lured by the promise of more money than they've ever dreamed of, five young criminals are hired to steal a heavily guarded treasure from the most powerful sorcerer in the city. There's Callan the con artist, Meriel the expert at acrobatics (and knives!), Gareth the researcher, Lachlan who can obtain anything, and Foxtail, whose mysterious eyeless mask doesn't hinder her ability to climb walls like a spider. Though their shadowy backgrounds mean that they've never trusted anyone but themselves, the five must learn to rely on each other in order to get the job done.
But as Callan has been warned most of his life, it's best to stay away from magic. It can turn on you at any moment, and make you think you're the one running the con game, when in reality you're the one being fooled. Faced with these unsurmountable odds, can the friends pull off this legendary heist, or has their luck finally run out?
This job has brought Callan into contact with other talented foxchildren where he develops true friendships. The team gets guidance along the way with the spirit of thieves, Shuna the Fox, when the peril goes beyond theft and literally could mean the end of the world.
What Left Me Wanting More: This book leaves on a major cliffhanger. I hope the sequel comes quickly! The teachings of the Old Man who raised Callan are always in his thoughts. I wonder if subsequent books will have Callan see him again? Their parting was abrupt and left Callan with an unfinished chapter in his life. The last thing was the mystery of Foxtail. She is a girl with a metal plate adhered to her face. I wonder if the purpose will be discussed in later books.
Final Verdict: I realized as I was reading with my son that this is the first time he has had a main character that wasn’t strictly a hero. A thief who cons others for a living ought to define him as bad. Yet, Callan is loyal and does help save the world. Through his actions and loyalty, he does have redeeming qualities. It led to an interesting discussion.
Overall, this book was an action-packed page-turner that is great for older middle-grade readers.