About the Book:
Viola, a child sold to pay her father's debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves' trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.
The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman's rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.
What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?
Available Here: Amazon
No Honor Among Thieves
I want to be able to recommend this book without reservation. Right up until the last couple of chapters, Child of the Night Guild is an enjoyable, clever fantasy story with engaging characters and a determined female protagonist who perseveres against all odds to come out on top. I like that sort of story. But one scene ruined it all for me. I hate to discuss spoilers in my reviews, but I feel like this issue has to be addressed. So, spoilers ahead, as well as references to rape.
Okay, so, towards the end of the book, the main character, a young woman named Ilanna, is raped by her antagonist, a bully and fellow member of the Night Guild named Sabat. The two spent the entire book in a back-and-forth game of violent one-upmanship, causing each other severe physical and psychological injuries. Their attacks against one another escalated throughout the book, culminating in Sabat cornering Ilanna and raping her. The rape isn’t described – the author cuts away before the deed is done – but the implication is there. It leaves Ilanna catatonic for the better part of a chapter. As a twist, it feels a little cheap; the use of rape as a way to show just how evil the antagonist is is such a worn-out cliché that it’s painful.
And it’s frustrating, because everything else about the book – Ilanna’s perseverance, her relationships with the other Hawks (her house in the Night Guild, a group who specialize in leaping and running across rooftops doing “third-story work”), the slow unfolding of her memories from the time before she was sold into the Night Guild…everything else is great. Peloquin’s prose is smooth and concise, his descriptions generally clear and evocative. He crafts an interesting story, one that makes use of a variety of classic fantasy tropes but uses them with some love for the genre and its conventions that it’s hard not to enjoy. I read the book quickly, eating up chapter after chapter in rapid succession.
The book does set up an interesting world, and the city of Praamis feels fleshed out and exciting. Peloquin has done some excellent world building here, and the set up for further stories in this world has me looking forward to what comes next. I just wish he’d avoided that pitfall towards the end.