Cover Image: The Thief on the Winged Horse

The Thief on the Winged Horse

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Member Reviews

The Thief on the Winged Horse was not the book that I thought it was going to be, and maybe that was my fault but when I read the synopsis on NetGalley I was sure this book was going to be a gripping mystery novel set in the heart of England with some magical realism undertones. Unfortunately, what I got a luke-warm family/relationship drama with the magical realism so far under I needed a shovel. 

The problem that I had with this book is that nothing seems to happen in it. It's 400 pages long and yet the whole thing reads like filler. The overarching plot is threadbare at best and completely not there at worst with the three main characters; Persephone, Larkin and Hedwig, all reading the same due to the writing style being so bland and emotionless and while that works for maybe one character having to read three POV's that are all essentially the same becomes tedious. I'm sure there could be something said for the characters being emotionless when the book itself revolves around dolls that grant people the ability to feel any emotion but that feels like a reach. 

There is no atmosphere or intrigue in this book, there is only one character that could have done the crime and they did it, no suspense or build-up, no subverting my expectations, honestly the mystery isn't even a b plot with how little it's involved in the book so that begs the question, what the hell is the plot? I still don't know! 

I don't know how you can take such an interesting concept as 'carefully crafted dolls that are magical and can evoke emotions in people' and make it so unexciting. I understand the idea of taking something magical and interweaving it with the mundane but there is just too much mundane for my liking, there are so many background characters in this book that I don't care about and that have no effect on the story, so much magical history that isn't explored and the ending is so rushed that I just don't know what the author wanted to achieve with this book and that is such a shame.

Don't get me wrong, there are some things I do like about this book; I did enjoy Persephone as a character, I found the way the magic was cast interesting and the theme of men hoarding information to make it rare and in turn make them more powerful was also well done but in the end, they were all overshadowed by how boring I found the overall plot.

I am finding it so hard to write this review because this book has done so little to warrant any kind of reaction out of me other than 'meh'. There was no substance to this book, there felt like there was no passion and I found it so disheartening because I thought the synopsis was so interesting but unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me.
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At one point near the start of this book I thought that it was going to read like a children's book. Thankfully the bit that made me think that (Larkin skipped up the central steps) was a one off and the story continued on a better footing.

Larkin has crossed to the eyot on which the Kendricks Workshop is placed and where its magical dolls are made; his intention is to become a sorcerer and make such dolls himself. However, Larkin is not the only one with such a desire.

In order to gain employment at the Workshop, Larkin must either be a family member or marry into the family. He believes his claim that he is a family member will gain him his employment.

There is a rare doll in the home of the current owner of Kendricks, made by Lucy Kendrick, one of the founders of the doll Workshop, "The Paid Mourner”. It is extremely valuable and, during an annual celebration, it is stolen. This theft is an unlikely event due to the protections surrounding the doll, but nonetheless it is gone.

As the only people who live on the eyot are family or married into the family, suspicions are spread thin. The twin of the owner is suspected and all family members have police searches to endure.

Plots twist and people turn about as they worm their way to the top. Dolls are made and hexes writ on mannequins to change the fortune of sorcerers. Kendrick's, Jackson's and Botham's wait to discover the whereabouts of 'The Paid Mourner'.

Larkin dances through it all, but Persephone is by his side. 

I like the way that the characters were tetchy and behaved as a normal person would. 

But, the thing that did annoy me was the way that bits were left out in certain areas, bits that will lead to another follow-up book I expect.
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An unexpected ending as I just couldn’t guess which normally I’m very good at! Perfect amounts of mystery and fantasy! A very enjoyable reading experience!
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i loved it. it was one of my mystery fav reads of 2020 i’m very excited for everyone else to read this glamorous book.
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Winged Horse lived up to every expectation I had from Mascarenhas' first novel and more, effortlessly drawing you into a world only slightly unlike our own where Sorcerers can 'lick' emotions onto inanimate objects, making the holder feel anything from Love to Adrenaline-fuelled Fear and back again. Persephone is a wonderfully unlikable, but not unsympathetic, character striving to create an equal workspace where women can be Sorcerers and everyone knows the spells used on the Kendricks dolls. A stunning second novel from the author of The Psychology of Time Travel.
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I love Kate Mascarenhas' imaginative writing. Her debut The Psychology of Time Travel was a time-travelling, gender bending, LGBTQ+ novel that denied definition and The Thief on the Winged Horse is just as original. Blending mystery, with creativity and a immersive story, Kate Mascarenhas sculpts a story as intricate and well-crafted as her characters' dolls.
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Netgalley Review: The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas
This book was incredible! The character development and foreshadowing was outstanding, the family and interpersonal dynamics were beautifully realised, the magic system and world building were incredibly done—I loved this book and fully intend to buy a paper copy of it once it is released so I can force people I know to read and appreciate it as much as I do. 
The world of doll making is not one I have experience with, but the author’s knowledge on the subject shines through and gives an amazing air of realism to a story that otherwise revolves around magical dolls and the families that make them. 
I was charmed by the world Kate Mascarenhas created in The Thief on the Winged Horse, and as always when I read a magnificent stand alone, I hope it becomes the start of a series, though the conclusion was magnificently done, and I can confidently say that the book stands alone fantastically. 
It’s a testament to how much I enjoyed this book that I’m several paragraphs into the review, and I have yet to mention the feminist themes that are explored in this book, and the canon sexual minorities represented in this work. Bisexual representation is done right, and though some characters face homophobia from unaccepting family members, it’s not done in a confronting or violent manner. 
Persephone was an exceptional character, and her interactions with Larkin and everyone else were thoroughly satisfying, touching and hilarious in turns. Hedwig was an amazing character, part antagonist, part untrustworthy ally. Larkin was a great touch, a far cry from the usual ‘outsider as a way to explore and explain the world’ trope. 
Conrad, Alistair and Briar were all marvellous foils for Persephone, Larkin, and Hedwig in turns, and I loved the way their various choices and failings both accounted for and contrasted with the changed attitudes and behaviours of the next generation on the eyot. It’s a testament to Kate Mascarenhas’s skill that I even came to feel sympathetic towards Briar over the course of the novel.  
The magic and symbolism in The Thief on the Winged Horse is amazing, easily on par with Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway or Lisa Mantchev’s Theatre Illuminata series—both exceptional examples of layered and poetic fantasy elements. The use of hexes in the latter part of the novel opens up fascinating possibilities that could easily become major plot points in future novels, and even if this does not come to pass, the incredible potential for enthralling future storylines only added to my enjoyment of the book. The Thief on the Winged Horse subverted my expectations charmingly, while still being an immensely satisfying read, and I love it for that. Even the romance subplot was another layer of enjoyment in this novel, rather than seeming expected or shoehorned in. 
Another high-point of this incredible book was the developed and immersive world-building. It genuinely seemed at times as though rather than learning of the world, mythology and characters, you were simply being reminded. I don’t know how, but somehow this book evoked a sense of nostalgia upon first reading, and I feel fiercely protective of Persephone, Hedwig, and half a dozen other characters besides. 
Though there is very little actual violence in this book, and I don’t feel it’s ever included in a distasteful manner, this book does include references to substance abuse, domestic violence, homophobia and sexism. If you’re sensitive to these issues, you may be better off avoiding The Thief on the Winged Horse. 
While The Thief on the Winged Horse is too unique for one to one comparisons, in addition to the works already mentioned, the book has similarities to Holly Black’s Curse Workers trilogy and the Sally Lockhart series by Philip Pullman—the fantasy elements of the book are charming and unique, but the relationships between characters and the themes developed within the novel are in no way overshadowed. For this reason, I believe fans of Rob Thurman’s Trickster novels or the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab will also find plenty to enjoy. The grounding, layered emotional connections of the book were also quite reminiscent of Mad Men, or NK Jemisin’s outstanding Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series.
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Thanks to Kate Mascarenhas, Head of Zeus and Netgalley for the ARC of The Thief on the Winged Horse.  
I like the way the back story evolved, the relationship between Larkin, who I was always suspicious of, and Persephone, a very likeable and endearing character who reminded me of my niece. The world-building was unique;  there were moments when I thought it strayed into YA, but a very enjoyable read.
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The Thief on the Winged Horse intrigued me pretty quickly on reading the synopsis. How could I not be drawn in by a magical doll making family?! It seemed unlike anything I'd ever read before and as someone who's always on the hunt for something completely different in the fantasy world, it was pretty much all I needed for it to reel me in. Although a quick, agreeable read, it ended up not being my kind of book.

The story follows a host of different characters within the Kendrick family in the fall out after their most precious doll is stolen. Although it was a very unique read - the idea of magical dolls each being crafted to evoke a singular emotion is still a pretty cool concept - I just didn't connect to the story. I often read pretty high fantasy so I'm not sure if that's just because the magic in this story didn't really seem to take the forefront. The story didn't read so much to me as a fantasy story rather than magical realism.

I didn't really connect to any of the characters either. Although I didn't particularly like any of them, their characters still intrigued me enough to want to see what happened to them. They are all inherently interesting, each with their own flaws and character quirks. We're pretty much never sure who we can trust so that probably contributed to the fact I could never form an emotional attachment to any of them. 

Overall, The Thief on the Winged Horse was an unusual read but just not for me. I would recommend this book to lovers of adult magical realism books looking to branch into lighter fantasy.
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I thought I'd love this more than I did. It's really a story about a dysfunctional family, with some magic thrown in, rather than a story about magic. Because of this, I felt the world-building of the magic was not as strong as it could have been, There was a lot of backstory, sometimes heavily shoe-horned in. IT made for a bit of a muddy middle, and I wasn't sure whether I hated or liked Larkin. I just knew I didn't hugely care about him, or the other characters.
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A gripping story which cleverly weaves realism and magic in a believable way. I couldn't put the book down and needed to find out what happened next at almost every turn. I related to Persephone in a way that was both positive, powerful and disappointing. Can't wait to source out Kate's other books!
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I have absolutely loved this book, it has been impossible to put this one down. This is a book that completely engaged me and pulled me in.
There is absolutely no way I could've guessed who the thief was. I had really high hopes for this book after seeing it all over bookstagram and twitter. I have not been disappointed. I am so thankful for the opportunity to review this one. 
I was initially attracted by the beautiful cover, it just screamed at me to be read. The story hasn't disappointed, this is an author who has pulled me in and made it absolutely impossible to put down. 
I haven't read anything by this author previously but I definitely haven't been disappointed. I am going to add others to my TBR. 
This is definitely a book to shout about. A five star read which is worthy of five hundred stars.
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"The Thief on the Winged Horse" is a book set in a contemporary Oxford with a difference: there is a family business there that has been manufacturing magic dolls for 200 years. These dolls are enchanted to give the holder a specific strong emotion, such as Heady Optimism or Bucolic Bliss. There are a number of well-known doll manufacturing firms around the world, but Kendricks is the only one with the secret of enchantment. Early on in the book an extremely valuable doll is stolen and the book deals with, among other things, the mystery of who the thief is.   

I really enjoyed this book. It's detailed, but you don't get bogged down as a reader. I felt that everything perhaps got wrapped up a little quickly at the end, but maybe I also wanted to stay in the world a little longer. 

*I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
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The Thief on the Winged Horse introduces characters like Persephone Kendricks, Hedwig Mayhew, and Larkin, that all have motivations of their own. It would have been much better if the backstory, which plays an important part in this, was clearer and not the mixed muddle it was. The mixed muddle debatably could show the elusiveness of certain characters and the confused feelings they have on certain subjects. However, as it is used for many of the characters in the story, it loses its mystery and becomes nothing more but a heap of confusion and makes for flatter characters.
On the other hand, I liked the idea of sorcery and spells existing in a modern world. I liked how magic was closely guarded as it was something not highly complex but overly simple. Magic was something anyone could wield. It was a different view on magic, especially given how most stories limit their magic to a few people or a certain community. Still, it would have been more interesting if the magic and superstition were more fleshed out for a more vibrant world.

I would say I liked the emphasis on the capability of women in this book, because I did. I liked a few of the characters, especially Persephone and Larkin, but this like didn’t deepen into anything more. The characters, as mentioned, were not given enough space or time to shine. They had their small moments, but these moments did not give enough to spark curiosity and interest.

The mystery as to who had committed the theft of the prized family heirloom was also something that provoked my interest to read on, but only barely. I was still very much able to put down this book and get on with other distractions. The problem with the mystery was that the threads and suspects were fleeting and fickle. I suspected the thief, but I didn’t quite expect it to be the person I had in mind. So yes, this book was able to keep the answer to its mystery, but it was vague in its attempts to keep readers guessing.

I would say that The Thief on the Winged Horse is a good enough book to like, but it is a quiet story that offers not much excitement or thrill. It is simple enough not to inspire thinking deeply but it has enough to keep you reading, though it does give you a muddle in the mind and heart.
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This book was marvellous from start to finish. The characters are rich, well-developed, flawed, hurting, and loving.  

The mythology of the Thief is genuinely enchanting and I would love to fall into more of this. 

The way that queer characters were introduced and maintained, as well as the way that feminist interested were produced throughout also makes this a story that’s gripping and morally challenging and gratifying. I really hope we get to see more of these characters and learn more of their mythology and history.
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Since 1820 the Kendrick family has been making and selling enchanted dolls from their workshop. Afforded by only the most wealthy, these dolls are handmade in a business made up only of family members and those descended from the original four founders.

Larkin, a talented doll-maker arrives at the workshop one day looking for an apprenticeship. He claims kinship from a family line previously thought to have ended, but suspicion, his references and skill enable him employment albeit on probation. Many are suspicious, including Persephone, niece of the current owner Conrad, who longs to work as a sorcerer - a role only offered to men - and who when alone, secretly practises her craft.

‘Sorcery’s no job for a woman’

One night during a masquerade party, a valuable doll is stolen. Only a family member could have bypassed the enchanted bars holding her in place. The police are called and an investigation ensues. The family firmly believe The Thief with the Winged Horse in involved, and their superstition is manipulated somewhat by others.

This novel is Persephone’s story despite the book starting with Larkin’s arrival. In a business empire founded by women, it has through the generations become male dominated, and Persephone seeks to break that tradition and become a sorcerer herself. She is hardworking but often overlooked and used by others, yet finds ways to access and discover the secrets of sorcery, as well as expose the deceits of people she has come to trust. 

Magic and folklore, belief in the fae and a thief who appears with a winged horse are facts of life in this contemporary tale of magical realism. I had fully expected this to be historic fiction, so was surprised and fascinated to see that it is set in 2020. Strangely this works, although I’d almost have preferred the book to be set in earlier times, as it would have felt a little more authentic, especially since life on the eyot, workshop and characters all seem to be largely historic in nature. However, this is a super readable book with some twists and turns. It’s clearly left open for a sequel, there are several threads left trailing..

Many thanks to NetGalley, Kate Mascarenhas and Head of Zeus for allowing me to read and review this title.
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The the thief on the winged horse a more modern magical tale. I liked it and the novel was well written, the characters are believable but for me something was missing.
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I really loved Kate's first book, 'The Psychology of Time Travel' so I was really thrilled to see that she had written another one. This book seemed to transcend all genres and was a fantastic mix of romance, crime and magic. 

The plot was seamless and interesting throughout, but the characters were what made this book fantastic for me.  They were really well-developed, clever and I enjoyed this read immensely!
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I absolutely loved The Psychology of Time Travel, and Kate Mascarenhas definitely hasn't disappointed with her follow-up. The world of The Thief on the Winged Horse has a fascinating, rich lore and its characters feel so true to life I expected to see them carry on with their day once I turned the last page. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoyed Mascarenhas' first novel, or anyone who loves to lose themself in a world just a few steps from our own...
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was very different from my expectations. I was expecting a magical fantasy, but the magic in this book exists more at the periphery, a backdrop for the portrait of familial strife that characterizes the eyot near Oxford on which the story takes places. 

The novel follows a large family of doll makers, who have the ability to create dolls that imbue the holders with certain emotions. The business is currently controlled by a capricious man named Conrad and his manipulative housekeeper Hedwig. The rules of the business are very strict: no outsiders are allowed to learn the craft that imbues the dolls with magic, and women are kept out of the sorcery process. The story jumps between a few primary perspectives: a girl named Persephone, Conrad's niece and the daughter of his detested twin brother, a boy named Larkin who is an outsider seeking access the business, and Conrad's housekeeper Hedwig who is scheming to make money off of Conrad. 

Though not much really "happens" in this book, it still managed to keep me interested, which is a point in its favor. It made compelling points about feminism and the role of women in patriarchal societies. It also, unexpectedly, had some very frank discussions about sex and virginity and societal expectations that you don't often see in literature, especially with a nineteen year old female protagonist. I found Persephone to be very human and frequently relatable. 

My biggest gripe was, though, that other than Persephone I couldn't bring myself to like any of the other characters. Hedwig was conniving and obnoxious, Larkin was often an opportunistic dick, and most of the other side characters reflected a host of negative qualities with few redeeming aspects. It just disheartens me thoroughly to read a book where I don't enjoy the people in it, which is most of the reason this book lost stars for me. I also was confused by the world: the novel often seemed like it could have taken place in some late 19th century version of England, with people riding carriages and using old-fashioned elevators, and then I would turn a page and read a line about a character taking a picture with their phone. I understand the intention to blend the old with the new, but at best the world felt disjointed. Also I'm just going to be disinclined to like a book where the mean patriarch is implied to be mean because he's a bitter closeted gay man. Just saying.
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