Review: An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Review: An Illusion of Thieves by Cate GlassAn Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass
Series: Chimera #1
Published by Tor Books on May 21, 2019
Pages: 352

Thanks to Tor Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy's aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they'll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

I really enjoyed this one. It was an impulse request because when I was looking for my next book to read, it just sounded like a better fit for what I was in the mood for than anything I had on hand. I started reading it immediately and am quite glad I did. Turns out there’s a great story here.

As with so many books I love, this features a strong female protagonist. Romy started life in Beggar’s Ring, the poorest and most downtrodden part of the city. However, her family sold her at a young age to what is essentially a training program for courtesans (yup, her family sold her as a child to become a high end prostitute). This is kind of a mixed thing. Of course it is bad, no one would choose to be sold for anything, much less for this purpose, but it also gave her an education and training that would never have been available to her otherwise.

Her life as a well and diversely educated courtesan gives her a unique background. But one of the most unique qualities is that she is able to do magic. Magic is forbidden, only people from Costa Droga are ever born demon-tainted (aka have the ability to perform magic) but no one really knows why. Romy has worked hard to hide her abilities because if she were discovered, it would mean death. No matter how well she might seem to blend in, she is never really herself of fully open as she is always shielding this part of herself from everyone.

She’s a character that in some ways doesn’t seem to be belong to any of the different social groups, but can navigate her way through any of them. Romy has been enjoying the life she has been given as much as she can. She has become the favored courtesan of the Shadow Lord, who appears to care for her. She enjoys having intelligent conversations with him and others at court. She might not have chosen this life, but she finds things to appreciate. At least until she receives a message that tears her back to her original life, living with a brother that she loves but doesn’t always like that much. But Romy is a survivor and a fighter, and what she does and the characters she encounters along the way make for a very intriguing story (I debated how much detail to give, but decided to leave it vague…. but it does involve a heist of sorts, scheming and magic with some swords and action thrown in… definitely a very fun read).

My only slight criticism is that the end felt a bit rushed, and there was some pretty blatant set up for the books to come. I don’t mind set up, but something about it felt a bit unnatural or forced. BUT … the good news is I actually love how the book ended and the potential it left for the upcoming books. Like really love the concept and I think there’s great potential there for the series.

So overall, I definitely recommend this one and am really looking forward to the next one! I had originally thought this was an amazingly strong debut, but then saw that it is a pen name for Carol Berg, who I have heard highly recommended. Now I need to go see about reading some of her other books. Any recommendations?


11 thoughts on “Review: An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass”

  1. I recently finished this myself! Although I think it took way too long getting to the actual “incident” that Romy has to solve, I found myself looking forward to the next book. I’m hoping now that a lot of the exposition has been handled, the next book will get to the meat of the matter more quickly.
    Caitlin G. recently posted…REVIEW: AN ILLUSION OF THIEVES by Cate GlassMy Profile

  2. I definitely became more interested in reading this one once I discovered from stumbling upon another blog that Cate Glass was Carol Berg. I’ve read a couple of her books – didn’t love them, exactly, but I knew from them that she was a good writer and was skilled in creating atmosphere. The books were her Dust and Light/Ash and Silver duology.

  3. You just blew my mind because I had no idea Cate Glass was a pen name for Carol Berg. I highly, highly recommend her stuff. She’s great at writing…well, tortured characters (for lack of a better word :P). Collegia Magica and the Lighthouse books are some of my faves!

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