Making magic, Denika Mead
The Traitor and the Thief
“It appeared no one in this new world he inhabited was quite who they seemed.” This is a quote from the steampunk adventure novel The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward. I was inspired to read this book after meeting the author, also known as The Great Wardini, at Booktown in Featherston, and being his assistant while he performed magic tricks. The Traitor and the Thief is a great book with complex characters, exciting twists and many themes.
When 14-year-old orphan Sin is abducted off the streets, he finds a new life in Covert Operations Group (COG), composed of a group of teens training to stop a war. Sin befriends the unique Zonda. While trying not to break the school’s unflinching rules, they work to unmask a traitor, causing chaos at COG’s headquarters. With twists and turns, Sin starts to suspect that someone close to him is the traitor.
The Traitor and the Thief is Ward’s first published book. It was the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award and was also listed in the New Zealand Listener Top 50 books for 2017. Ward is a magician, bookseller and writer. He has also had many other interesting jobs, including being a police officer and a zombie. He is a New Zealand author living in Hawkes Bay. Ward was a Sir Julius Vogel Award winner in 2018 for Best Youth Novel and Best New Talent.
The Traitor and the Thief has lots of themes, including coming of age, good vs evil, and persevering against the odds. The book has complex characters and their agendas are not always clear. As Tobias Beckett said in the movie Solo, A Star Wars Story, “Assume everyone will betray you and you will never be disappointed.” That reflects what Sin and the reader’s train of thought becomes as the story progresses.
Throughout the book, you suspect many people of being the traitor. There is a character who is a magician called Noir. Noir is part of the committee who runs the Covert Operations Group along with the inventive Nimrod, the demanding Lilith, and clever Eldritch. Noir was one of my favorite characters, second only to Sin. Noir appears sinister and is very creepy. There is strong character development throughout the book. At the start, Sin only watched out for himself, but by the end he has formed close friendships and loyalties.
There are many moments in The Traitor and the Thief when tension runs high, pushing the characters to their limits. The Traitor and the Thief has a nice blend of reality and fictional settings. The River Thames appears in the book, but so does the fictional Lenheim Palace. I can’t wait for the second book to come out so I can learn more about these amazing characters and share their journeys. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of magic and mystery.
Denika Mead is aged 14, from Wellington.