Museum of Thieves - Lian Tanner I found this in my hunt for books narrated by Claudia Black. I’m not going to deny that my adoration for this woman’s skill as a performer easily biases me. She gives her all, as usual, in this book and her performance may have tipped the scale, but, stepping back and trying really hard to be objective, I’d like to believe I’d have enjoyed it just as much had I read it myself (though I could never have done it justice!)

The Museum of Thieves exists in a dystopian utopia where all the dangers of the world have been removed to keep everyone safe. There are no pets, save for clockwork creations, because live animals bring disease and could bite you at any moment! Children are literally bound to their parents or to the Blessed Guardians until they are 16 years old, again, all in the name of keeping them safe. Were they not chained to their parents, or to their beds at night, they could be stolen away by any number of monstrous pirates and slavers! The children don’t particularly care for this arrangement, but fear keeps them in check, with the exception of Goldie Roth, of course.

On her Separation Day, the ceremony to allow her her freedom is cancelled after a bombing that causes the death of a child and a whole lot of panic. This immediately throws the Protector’s plans to limit the powers of the Blessed Guardians and lower the Age of Separation to twelve out the window. Refusing to accept the cancellation, Goldie steals a pair of scissors and boldly snips the ribbon binding her to her parents and escapes, only to find herself lost, alone and hungry in the streets, hunted by the Blessed Guardians until a mysterious man guides her to the Museum.

This is a coming of age book where a young girl who has never been allowed to think and do for herself has to learn to do so with the help of her own instincts, a little voice in her head, the memory of her bold aunt and the Keepers of the Museum. The secrets of the Museum are revealed, as is the dastardly plot against the city of Jewel. Some of the events are quite predictable, but keeping in mind the audience the book is meant for, everything works nicely and the characters and sense of adventure drive everything along at a pace that kept me interested the whole way through.

Tanner really spoke to me with the idea of children – and parents – being restricted in this society because it’s something that I rage against as a parent. The locks and chains binding the children may seem extreme, yet it’s not uncommon to see kids on leashes now. Sure it’s convenient and ensures a little runner can’t do just that, but I’d much rather hold my children’s hands and teach them why they should hold mine. It’s far more respectful to them and I believe that children are just as deserving of respect as adults, and in return, they will learn to respect and be responsible for and to others. Our society restricts children in so many other way– much of it coming from our fear of them getting sick or hurt or worse. Of course no parent wants such things to happen to their child and I’m not naïve enough to believe I can protect my child from everything, but it is possible to be too overprotective to the point of not letting our kids live and learn through experience. Living in fear is no way to live! Consequently, I really enjoyed the liberation of the children at the end and the genuine pride that the elder Keepers and the parents showed for Goldie and her fellow escapee, Toad Spit.

Returning to the narration, Black does such an incredible job with accents, tones, pronunciation, pacing and most importantly, emotion. I was literally on the edge of my seat during some parts and in almost tears during others. I loved the characters, including the Museum itself, and Black very successfully brought them all to life. I am absolutely going to continue with the other books in the trilogy to find out what happens next.