Review: It Takes a Thief to Catch a Sunrise by Rob J. Hayes

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I can imagine that flitting across those rooftops in a dress is something else it takes a thief to do.

Catching the sunrise is only the first thing that it takes a thief to do, among other things. I love me a good heist story, and I’ve been known to enjoy a good steampunkish sort of setting, so I jumped right on board the crystal-powered airship of thievery here.

Set in a new world of corruption, deceit and thievery; mixing magical fantasy and alchemy-punk with a healthy smattering of airshippery. “There comes a point in every thief’s life where one has to take stock of all that they have achieved. We have stolen almost everything there is worth stealing: Prince Henri’s Jadefire ring, the Marquisse d’Bola’s collection of prized toy soldiers, Elize Gion’s Living Autumn, the very first airship schematic, and who could forget we definitely made off with Baron Rivette’s pride. The trick, I find, is not to break in. No. The trick is to convince the mark to invite you in.”

“Nobody would ever attempt such a thing because of how insane it is so nobody will ever expect anyone to attempt such a thing so they won’t expect it. Hence why its insanity is the key element to the success of the entire plan.”

This story follows Isabel de Rosier and Jacques Revou, lovers and thieves who, at the beginning of the tale are executing their greatest heist of all with plans to retire. They buy a small house and settle down only to be visited by Renard Daron, the Shadow Conceiller to the king, who has not only frozen all of their bank accounts, but has taken possession of everything they own. The only way that they can get everything back to to agree to do one final job for him, while being more or less shadowed by his goons, Franseza Goy and Amaury Roche.

I really liked the setting. When you get steampunk and airships and alchemy, you usually get Victorian England, but here we appear to have gotten something more to the tune of late-19th century France, which was a nice change from others in the genre. I liked Isabel, and I love-love-loved Jacques. I liked their banter, their relationship, and how they each brought a different skill to the table. Isabel with a history in acting, and Jacques with a love of alchemy and airships.

Here’s where I’ll say that I started out listening to this one as an audiobook. Right off the bat I had to turn my speed settings down (I usually listen to audiobooks at about 1.3x) because the narrator spoke too fast compared to pretty much every other audiobook I’ve ever listened to. In the end, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stand the sound of her voice. Her accent for Isabel was over the top and annoying, her Daron was just… not at all what I expected, and let’s not even get me started on Franseza and Amaury. I listen to a *lot* of audiobooks (between 80 and 90 a year, usually), and this isn’t the first narrator that I’ve disliked enough to give up on a book, but I always feel bad doing it. I have a policy where I will give an audiobook 3 hours before I give up on it. I gave this one 3:01:42 before I was just done. Sorry, audiobook. 😦

Luckily, however, this was a whispersync purchase, so I already had the kindle version as well, so I was able to pick it back up and continue where I left off. I think I made a very good decision, because I feel like not liking the narration was hampering my actual feelings for the book. Once I gave up listening and started reading, I was absolutely enthralled. The moral of the story is to not let a bad narration prevent you from finishing a book that you like. I did like this book, quite a lot!

The plot was quite gripping, never boring, full of enough twists to keep me reading well into the night, and well thought out. The idea of the Elementals, and the Oozes and things like that gave this world a bit of a magical touch, which was nice. I really liked the secondary characters, especially Franseza. One of my favorite things about the way that this novel was written, is that the narrative refers to Isabel and Jacques as Adeline and Bastien if they’re ‘in character’ as opposed to ‘out of character’. That was a nice bit of attention to detail. I also liked how the plot was advanced in cleverly used flashbacks from time to time.

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I bet if I gave this pier a good run down I could catch it… or bellyflop into the lake. Same thing really.

A solid 4.5 stars out of 5! I’ll definitely read more in this series. I hear that It Takes a Thief to Start a Fire. I had better investigate!

You can pick up a copy here: US | UK | CA | NOOK

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