Tim Susman’s shelf-bending secondary-world fantasy—about a disgraced thief’s epic adventures while attempting to restore his reputation—is nothing short of a stand-up-and-applaud storytelling tour de force.
Nivvy is a down-on-his-luck thief currently lashed to a spinning wheel and being pelted with rotten vegetables by townspeople after being caught trying to steal a woman’s jewels. With his options of escaping quickly dwindling, he’s approached by a strange woman named Bella wearing a dirty but obviously glamorous dress who offers him his freedom for help with a seemingly insane proposition: “I need you to help me steal a kingdom.”
Bella, it turns out, is a deposed queen who had been magically trapped for hundreds of years and is bent on somehow locating and regaining her kingdom from the current monarchy. Nivvy travels the realm exploring wondrous locales in search of magical artifacts Bella needs for her mission. Along the way, he meets characters that have a profound impact on his life, like Zein, a hawk that used to be human, and Scarlet, an ancient entity living in a volcano that could quite possibly be insane. As the tale unfolds, Nivvy soon realizes that the quick-tempered and ruthless queen might not be the hero of the story but the villain.
While a good novel may have one or two strong hooks, this novel has several. To explain in detail would spoil some of the many jaw-dropping plot twists within. Suffice it to say that Nivvy is an unforgettable character, as is his friend Zein. Their burgeoning relationship, as well as the community they join at novel’s end, is both innovative and progressive.
This is an indie offering better than most of the traditionally published fantasy novels currently on the shelves. Creatively courageous, featuring unconventional characters, and powered by relentless pacing, this epic adventure is a rich tapestry of intertwining tales that creates an original fantasy readers won’t soon forget.
Also available in ebook and audio book.