Skate the Thief is the first book in a YA fantasy series sent to me by the publisher. After nine-year-old Skate's parents died in a tragic fire, Skate was taken in by the criminal organization The Ink. In exchange for stealing valuable items, she is given a place to stay and food to eat. When a steal goes awry and she is discovered by the wizard Belamy, he offers her a surprising deal; she can earn a place to stay if she "borrows" books for him. He even teaches her how to read and some magical spells. However, she lies to Belamy and still works for The Ink, preparing to steal from him. But as she grows fond of Belamy, Skate must decide who is deserving of her loyalty. She must decide soon, because everyone's lives may soon be at risk.
In Skate the Thief, the setting and coincidental circumstances make Skate special, not the other way around like in many stories. The idea that anyone can practice magic, if taught, is marvelous. One doesn't have to come from a special bloodline to be able to change the color of a fireplace. That sense of equality is unique in most literature, and helps contradict the hierarchical structure of their world. The setting was unique to have magical and mythical creatures co-existing with humans, especially for the most part even aware of each other.
Skate the Thief also brings up important ethical issues and challenges the traditional beliefs of right and wrong. In Skate's case, both choices (of remaining loyal to The Ink or to Belamy) are morally wrong and right. While The Ink took her off the streets, Belamy showed her nothing but kindness, even when she didn't deserve it. While she must betray someone in the presence of many lives at stake, kindness is the most important value. While staying with Belamy, Skate evolves from a cold criminal on the streets to an girl capable of independence with a strong moral compass and the ability to care for others. Skate the Thief teaches that while loyalty and survival are important, trust and compassion are more essential forces.
The ending held a strong climax, and I enjoyed the increase in intensity. However, some of the chapters felt very information-heavy. Some chapters would just be Skate asking multiple questions and Belamy listing the answers. I feel like there could have been a way to trim down some of the background information, which was sometimes irrelevant and distracting from the plot. It is also difficult to believe that Skate is only nine- her emotional maturity puts her, in my mind, closer to thirteen or fourteen.
Despite that, I recommend you read this book! I'm excited to read the next book!
Title: Skate the Thief
Author: Jeff Ayers
Publisher: Thinklings Books, LLC
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars