Title: Painted Devils
Author: Margaret Owen
Series: Little Theives #2
Release Date: 16/5/23
I received a free eARC copy from Hodder and Stoughton ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Let’s get one thing straight—Vanja Schmidt wasn’t trying to start a cult.
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 if 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 if Vanja is guilty of serious fraud, or if the Scarlet Maiden—and her claim to him—are genuine. Meanwhile, Vanja is chasing an alternative sacrifice that may 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?
This was just fun! I have to admit when I dove into this one I couldnt quite remember what happend in Little theives other than I thought it was one of the best heist books I had read in a long time (and I love a good heist). When I started this one all the love of the characters and this world just flooded back.
I love how much focus this had on Vanja and Emeric’s burgeoning relationship. This is probably one of the best descriptions of that awkward teenage stage of moving a romantic relationship to a sexual relationship. I loved how all the adults acted and treated them. That there was a knowing smile and a wink along with genuinely good advice. The fact that the pressure to have sex was intergral to the plot but that the pair took time to talk it all out was just really well done. It didn’t feel forced or preaching it felt like a genuine discussion. I also loved all the cringing funny moments that were created by that plot line too.
The rest of the plot focused around finding Vanja’s family and all the highjinx that that entailed was also utterly entertaining. It was really well paced, giving us moments of triumph for Emeric as well as Vanja. Mixing cult getting out of hand, a library polterguist, a kidnap, property fraud, a mini heist all with the emotions of Vanja having to face her past and what happened to her was so beautifully done to keep me turning the pages.
We also get a million more times world building in this one than Little Theives. We get to see how other towns and cities work, learn more about how the Small Gods gain their power and how that works in the grand scheme of things. I was a little disappinted that we didn’t get as much magic in this one. This was definately more focused on the characters. It gives me hope that book three will be a lot more drama filled now that we know these characters so well.
I also have to utterly commend Owen on her writing. There were so many sneeky references that made me giggle when I spotted them. I am also positive there were a lot that I missed, but anyone that can work backstreet boys lyrics into a fantasy novel is a master in my world. This book had me laughing and grinning from ear to ear. It was just a joy to read. There is no second book slump with this and I am very much looking forward to book three with that ominous tease at the end of the book.
One thought on “ARC Review – Painted Devils”
I loved this one too.
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