Dreadmarrow Thief by Marjory Kaptanoglu

A girl tangles with an evil wizard and uncovers family secrets, with tragic consequences.

Locksmith’s daughter Tessa has an amulet which allows her to transform into a sparrow. Unfortunately, that brings her to the attention of local tyrant, sorceror, and all-round-bad-guy Conjurer Fellstone, who wants the amulet back and also has a personal interest in Tessa. When his mooks kill her father, it seems the only way to bring him back from the dead is to steal a powerful magical artifact from Fellstone’s castle. Accompanied by Calder, a resourceful fortune-teller, and Ash the grave-digger’s son, who have their own reasons for going, she sets off on a quest which is surely suicidal.

This is a well-edited, fast-paced fantasy adventure, with a slightly whimsical fairy-tale feel and a nice sense of humour. Unusually, it’s told in both first-person point of view (Tessa) and third-person (Calder and Ash), but in separate chapters and well enough done not to be jarring. There’s some young adult romance, but the focus remains on the adventure.

Overall, a fun light read. Though labelled as Book 1, this is a standalone story with hooks for a sequel.

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