Wednesday, March 23, 2011

REVIEW: The Shadow Thieves (Cronus Chronicles Book One)

Ursu, A.  (2006).  The Shadow Thieves.  New York:  Aladdin Paperbacks.

420 pages.

Not to be confused with one of the books in the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson that has the same name, The Shadow Thieves is the first book in the Cronus Chronicles which features Greek gods and creatures.  (Although, with all the shadows being separated from their children, it is difficult to not think PETER PAN!  YAY!)

Appetizer:  Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Mielswetzski (Meals. Wet. Ski.) thinks her life would be a terrible story since nothing much has happened to her.  (I disagree with a humorous narrator like hers, her life seems pretty interesting to me.  But terrible or not, her life is about to change:  Her cousin Zachary is moving in with her family, her odd new English teacher, Mr. Metos, is doing a unit on Greek mythology and Charlotte keeps having dreams of the ground breaking under her feet and her falling.

Her cousin, who likes to go by Zee, is having some problems of his own.  His grandmother died over the summer and ever since then it seems all of the other kids around him are getting sick.  It will be up to him and Charlotte to figure out what is going on and to fix it.

This story won me over from pretty much page one.  The narrator rambles humorously in a way that I wish I could write.  Plus, the narrator is very pro-kittens (How could you not be?!).  Writing as someone who has read...oh, over thirty-something novels that include the gods in the modern world, the narrator's voice was very refreshing.

I did struggle a little with the way that the text shifted perspective.  I immediately loved Charlotte and did want to leave her story-line to hear about other characters.  I also felt like some of the characters figured out what was wrong a little too easily.

But aside from that, I looooooved The Shadow Thieves.  I'm not saying everyone will love it, but I recommend it highly.

Dinner Conversation:

"Pay attention.  Watch carefully, now.  Look at the sidewalk, there.  See that girl--the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness?  That's Charlotte Mielswetzski.  (Say it with me:  Meals-wet-ski.  Got it?  If not, say it again:  Meals.  Wet.  Ski.  There.  You thought your name was bad?)  And something extraordinary is about to happen to her.
No, the extraordinary event will not be related to that man watching her behind the oak tree...that oddly pale, strangely thin, freakishly tall, yellow-eyed, bald-headed man in the tuxedo" (p. 3).

"So, anyway, there she was, walking along in an ordinary way, muttering to herself about curses, with her bursting backpack and her metaphorical black cloud and her ordinary bad mood--when something extraordinary happened.
A kitten appeared in front of her.
Not--poof!--not like that.  Nothing magical at all.  Quite ordinary, in fact.  A normal chain of events, just what you would expect with a sudden appearance of a kitten"  (p. 5).

"Charlotte did not sleep well that night.  For a few days she had fancied herself on the periphery of some great mystery, one that had begun with the sudden arrival of her British cousin and then seemed to encompass her English teacher as well.  But suddenly Charlotte wasn't living in a mystery anymore, in a fantasy world made of dark secrets and hidden tunnels and vampiric teachers and foggy London nights.  Now Charlotte lived in this horrible world where her best friend could get so sick she couldn't lift her head" (p. 70).

"Lots of kids are sick.  So I guess--"
"Wait," Zee leaned forward.  "How many?"
"I dunno," Charlotte shrugged.  "Maddy's got it.  She's been gone for a week."
Zee leaned toward her and grabbed her arm.  Bartholomew fell off his lap.  "What is it?  What does she have?"
Charlotte stared at him.  "I don't know!  Nobody knows.  She can't get out of bed, it's really awful, she's just lying there-"
Zee fell back into the couch.  "Oh no."  His hands flew to his face.  Charlotte and Bartholomew stared.
"It's my fault," he said slowly.  "It's all my fault."
Charlotte could not stand it anymore.  "What's your fault?  Zee, what's going on?"
Zee had lost all color in his face.  He seemed to be shaking.
"They followed me."  (p. 84)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!!

So, about a year ago, my dissertation advisor suggested I read this series since it was so closely related to my dissertation.  I planned on it.  I meant to read it.  Somehow, I got the idea in my head that the series wasn't that closely related to my topic.  Stupid ideas and stupid head.

I'm so glad I read this book before my dissertation was finished even though I now have to go back in and add new segments to heavily edited and polished chapters.  There would have been a gap in my dissertation without including this series.

On to book two, The Siren Song!


  1. Hi, stopped by after reading your interview with Misha. Love the site and your review. I will popped in a lot more now that I have gotten to know your love of books.

  2. This book was great but why was the kitten so important in the book??

  3. I'll give you the answer...but it's a spoiler for the end of the book.

    If you don't want to be spoiled, I'll just say that you get the significance of the cat as you read.

    Now for the spoiler answer....


    The cat is Zee's grandmother after she reincarnates so she can watch over him and Charlotte. I thought it was an AWESOME twist in the story.



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