An enigmatic steampunk adventure, Nell Mace-David
The Traitor and the Thief
Walker Books Australia
August 24, 2021
“If you join us, you too may die, but your sacrifice will save the lives of millions. COG [Covert Operations Group] does not fight for the Empire; it fights for humanity.”
In The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward, 14-year-old Sin lives on the streets of Coxford, picking pockets for a living. He is an orphan, and the closest thing he’s ever had to family is the rough gang he steals for and their mean leader, the Fixer. He didn’t even know that a secret organisation like COG existed, that is, until he met the scar-faced Eldritch Moons. Stuck in a crafty trap that leads to a wild chase through the back-alleys, Sin has no choice but to go with this strange man, but he won’t go quietly. Boy, did he not know what he was getting himself into when he pocketed that necklace.
What he was getting himself into was a way out of the gang, and a second chance at life. Who is he to turn away that chance? Even if it means joining COG, an organisation that trains kids how to be spies, and would readily throw Sin into any life-or-death situation imaginable. It turns out that, though dangerous, COG isn’t so bad after all. He has already made a friend, a cake-loving girl named Zonda Chubb, and an enemy, the malevolent Velvet Von Darque.
Everything is going well, or as well as it can be when you’re practically committing treason every day, when there is an assassination attempt at COG’s founder. It becomes apparent that there is a spy in COG. A traitor. Sin already has a few suspects, from the shadowy magician Noir, to the mechanical Major C. And then he is forced into working with his arch-rival. Surely things can only get better? But that thought couldn’t be more wrong. As things go from bad to worse, can Sin expose the traitor, before it’s too late?
Ward has written the steampunk adventure of a lifetime. I was on the edge of my seat until I turned the last page of The Traitor and the Thief. You never know what danger is right around the corner. Riddled with mystery and peril, this book is definitely a captivating read. The Traitor and the Thief is also a winner of the Tessa Duder Storylines Book Award. This thrilling book has undeniably earned it.
The characters and settings are vivid, creating the scenes in your head for you. It almost seems to be an alternate universe, and yet it is so similar to our own. A world on the brink of war, filled with fear and greed. A dreadful disease (which is especially relatable). I found myself willing the characters through the trials that they faced. I am sure I will find myself going back to this book whenever I am looking for a gripping book that I cannot put down until the very end.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone 13 years and over, but it isn’t just for kids. Seriously anyone could read this book, as long as they don’t mind something a little scary. For lovers of steampunk, fantasy, adventure, or mystery, this book has something for everyone. And for those of you who read it and want more, there is a second book in the series that you can probably find in your local library, The Clockill and the Thief. In my opinion it is just as good as the first one. So, read on, and I hope you love it just as much as I did!
- Nell is 13, homeschooled, and lives in Dunedin.