Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Book: The Theft of Sunlight
Summary (click for dropdown)
I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away from it.
Children have been disappearing from across Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer – even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule.
Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers the kingdom itself.
Author: Intisar Khanani
Year Published: 2021
Content Warnings: physical and emotional abuse, ableism, child slavery, human trafficking
- Plot: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Overall: 5/5
The Theft of Sunlight is the companion novel to Thorn that focuses on a new main character called Amraeya (or Rae for short). When I read Thorn last year I was very impressed with pretty much everything about it and I was even more impressed when this book had everything I liked about Thorn but was even better!
I have so much love and respect for Rae. She was strong but not in the way I’m used to seeing in fantasy novels- her strength lay in her empathy, loyalty and moral fibre and it was refreshing to read about such a character.
The plot drew me in from the very start and dragged me deeper and deeper into the depths of its mysteries. It never gave too much away but maintained a steady trickle of breadcrumbs and breakthroughs that kept me hooked up until the very last page. There were twists that I saw coming but they were so well built up to and executed that it didn’t feel predictable or boring in the slightest. I also felt that there was a very good balance of softer, emotional scenes and dramatic, action-packed, confrontational scenes that it never felt too slow paced or too overwhelming. AND THE CLIFFHANGER!!! The book ended on a cliffhanger which I usually find very frustrating but it felt like a fitting conclusion and I can only hope that we get a sequel so that I can find out what happens next!
In the acknowledgements Khanani mentions that the slavery in The Theft of Sunlight is modelled on modern day human trafficking and I definitely saw a lot of real life parallels in the book. Every day children were ‘snatched’ without a trace, transported and sold into slavery and everyone lived in fear- it was extremely chilling to read about. It made me so sad reading about the grief of families who had lost their children, not knowing their fates or whether they were even alive- especially knowing that there are countless real families living with that sorrow all over the world.
What was most chilling was how those in power were either completely oblivious of the problem, willingly in denial of it or trying to cover it up. I shared in Rae’s shock and disgust at the utter disregard shown by those who were wealthy and privileged simply because it wasn’t affecting them even though they had resources and power that could help so many but sadly, I also wasn’t that surprised at all because it’s the precise attitude that so many in powerful, privileged positions in our world have.
The Theft of Sunlight was an impressive and refreshing read, balancing high stakes and mystery with softness and emotion that I highly recommend!