The Rose Thief
Author: Claire Buss
Publisher: CB Visions
Published: 10th November, 2017
ISBN: print: 1549982443 / ASIN: B076FT93YN
Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor's roses. But that's not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It's up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn't exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?
What's the worst thing about reading a book like The Rose Thief? Not having the time to stay in bed all day and read, read, read until it's all gone. For that reason only, it has taken me two weeks to read, although I'll admit I did intentionally 'Oh, dear...I'm so tired, I simply cannot read anymore tonight' a couple of times to stretch it a little bit longer.
From that, you hopefully get a sense of how wonderful it is to become immersed in the world author Claire Buss has created. This is science fiction/fantasy with giggles - of the same ilk as Terry Pratchett and Tom Hot (who, for the longest time, was my favourite author). It's that mix of the extraordinary and the mundane, the sublime and the utterly disgusting. The characters are kind of ordinary people doing kind of ordinary jobs (well, apart from the Emperor, may he live for ever and ever), and there's magic.
Now, I'm no aficionado of magic in fiction. I've read a few boffin reviews that are full-scale critiques of how the author should have done this or shouldn't have done that. I don't care. If it works, it works, and The Rose Thief works brilliantly. I couldn't tell you how long it is without looking, but I can tell you the length is just right. There wasn't a single moment where I felt the story dragged or went too fast. Plot-wise, it's plausible and well-paced with a few little twists along the way, and the world-building just happens. I didn't even notice it, which is exactly how it should be.
As for the characters...well, that's my thing. I love character-driven fiction, and while The Rose Thief isn't really that, the characters are well fleshed out with distinct personalities, qualities and talents. Ned - our intrepid chief thief-catcher - is wonderfully humble and down-to-earth. Jenni - Ned's right-hand sprite - is singularly awesome (and maybe a bit stinky). She is my absolute favourite character in this story. I'll leave you to meet the rest of team for yourself. Think CSI on LSD?
All in all, this is a fantastic novel, and there's at least one more story from this world in the pipeline, which means I'm off now to sign up for Claire Buss's newsletter so I can get in line to one-click that beastie as soon as it shows its face.
About Claire Buss:
Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy and contemporary writer based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict, Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion.
The Gaia Effect, the winner of the Favourite Fantasy/Sci-Fi book Raven Award, was published in 2016 and Tales from Suburbia in 2017. Claire has short stories in sci-fi & fantasy anthologies Tales from the Underground and Quantum Soul. Her latest novel, The Rose Thief, a humorous fantasy, is out now.
Website: cbvisions.weebly.com/ (From here, you can read the first chapter.)
Buy The Rose Thief: mybook.to/rosethief (Kindle/KU; paperback)
Thanks for reading,