Publication: 16th May 2023 – Hodderscape
Let’s get one thing straight – Vanja Schmidt wasn’t trying to start a cult.
A scrappy former maid and jewel thief must outwit gods, injustice, and her own past in this sequel to Little Thieves by Margaret Owen.
After taking down a corrupt margrave, breaking a deadly curse, and finding romance with the vexingly scrupulous junior prefect Emeric Conrad, Vanja had one great mystery left: her long-lost birth family . . . and whether they would welcome a thief. But in her search for an honest trade, she hit trouble and invented a god, the Scarlet Maiden, to scam her way out. Now that lie is growing out of control – especially when Emeric arrives to investigate and the Scarlet Maiden manifests to claim him as a virgin sacrifice.
For his final test to become a prefect, Emeric must determine whether Vanja is guilty of serious fraud or if the Scarlet Maiden – and her claim to him – is genuine. Meanwhile, Vanja is chasing an alternative sacrifice that could be their way out. The hunt leads her not only into the lairs of monsters and the paths of gods, but the ties of her past.
And with what should be the simplest way to save Emeric hanging over their heads, he and Vanja must face a more dangerous question: Is there a future for a thief and a prefect, and at what price?
It’s here! I’ve been a long wait for the sequel of Little Thieves (almost two years!!!), but, after reading Painted Devils, it was worth it! I forgot how much fun Vanja and Emeric can be and how good the author is in keeping you immersed in the story. I loved every single page of this novel, I laughed for at least half of it, and I didn’t want it to end.
Following the events of Little Thieves, Vanja is determined to find her family, who she hasn’t seen in thirteen years, while her love for Emeric is still going strong, but can a thief and a prefect really be together? She wants to be honest and be worthy of both her family and Emeric, but she “accidentally” invents a god, the Scarlet Maiden, and starts a cult that quickly takes hold of an entire village. And when it turns out that the Scarlet Maiden is indeed real and she wants Emeric as her virgin sacrifice, Vanja needs to find a way out of it, while also trying to prove to Emeric’s stubborn supervisor that she is not guilty of fraud.
The romance between Vanja and Emeric is perfect. These two characters together are incredible, hilarious and so adorable. Emeric needs to pass his prefect exam and is supervisioned by a retired prefect who is determined to accuse Vanja of fraud and he is cursed by a god (and his virgin status made a common knowledge). Vanja is determined to find a way to protect both Emeric and the village that she has come to love, but she is haunted by her mother’s prediction that she would be the ruin of everyone she loves.
I really hope that the third book in the series will come out soon, because I can’t wait another two years to see what happens, especially after that surprising and heartbreaking ending.
I still haven’t read the author’s previous series, The Merciful Crow, but I can’t recommend her (and this series) enough. She knows how to hold the reader’s attention with an addictive writing style, an entertaining story full of twists and adventures, and a cast of characters that you can’t help but fall in love with!
A huge thank you to Hodderscape and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of this fantastic novel.
Margaret Owen was born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, and now lives and writes in Seattle while negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, drawing a lot of nonsense, and raising money for social justice nonprofits.