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Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner
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Thief Eyes

by Janni Lee Simner

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The plot's kind of all over the place. It all wraps up in the end, so there's that. ( )
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |
Simner, J.L. (2010). Thief Eyes. New York: Random House.

256 pages.

Appetizer: Thirty generations ago, to escape her fate of marrying a man she cared nothing for, a sorceress attempted to exchange her fate with that of one of her descendants.

Now Hayley, who has traveled to Iceland in search of her mother who went missing last summer, is haunted by dreams and a strange coin that is connected to an ancient spell.

She soon finds herself tangled in her ancestor's spell and in another realm. Not only must she find her way home, but she must decide whether she wants to seek revenge against the sorceress for sending her mother away or saving the world that may unravel due to the spell.

So, at first, I thought I was going to love this book. It dealt with gender issues. You know how I feel about books that address historical and contemporary inequities between the genders: Luuuuurves it! But those issues were all kind of in the background.

Next I thought I was going to love this book because it dealt with Norse myths and it could become a part of my dissertation. But I have to admit, Norse mythology is not my strong point. I've only read one of the Eddas (and I honestly don't remember if it was the prose or the poetic one). But my lack of knowledge was made worse by the fact that Simner seems to assume that the reader will not only have more than a vague recollection of the figures in Norse mythology, but will be familiar with the various sagas. The only reason I was able to read with any confidence was because I googled all the names in the story that seemed like they could have been in a myth. I found that to be very disappointing. Maybe the goal was for me to already have researched Norse mythology. Maybe after reading the book I'm expected to venture out and read both Eddas. Either way, I would have just preferred Thief Eyes explain in a sentence or two some fragment of a myth that might be familiar. Hell, I would have accepted for a phrase of description.

If that wasn't bad enough, I also had some trouble with the actual story. How to explain it....

Have you read Kit's Wilderness?

It's this fantasy in which kids essentially time travel to solve an ancient problem. But the book is structured in a poetic and trippy way that you kind of have trouble knowing what and when the action is going one. Many people love Kit's Wilderness.

Thief Eyes reminded me of Kit's Wilderness. I fraking hate Kit's Wilderness.

As I was reading Thief Eyes, I had a lot of trouble with the way Haley flowed among times and locations. I'd be reading, and suddenly it seemed that Haley was in great danger because there was fog and she fell (?) and had lost all of her memories and I didn't know how the paragraph had gotten to that point--not even after rereading--because I had thought she was just going for a walk and a raven stole her memory and to understand why that had happened I had to google Norse mythology, which was fine, but wouldn't it have been even better if the story helped me with that--oh and now somebody else is in this unknowable magic place and has transformed into a bear and I did not understand.

Sigh.

So, clearly, I had some trouble with Thief Eyes. I do feel my issues with the story were solely mine. I'm not a big fan of books that deal with the bending of time and location in fluid ways. And this book is all about that. The writing is good. Haley's concerns as a character are interesting (having learned that her father cheated on her mom influences how she feels about Ari, who she is on this journey with and feels connected to, even though she has a boyfriend/best friend waiting for her at home).

I think I'm going to just have to conclude that this book just wasn't for me.

Dinner Conversation:

"I will not allow it.
I will not be given to the first man who asks for my hand, bartered like a horse or a sheep. I will determine my fate, as my father promised me long ago" (p. 1).

"A moment more and this woman and I will trade places. I will see through her eyes; she will see through mine. She will marry Thorvald, Osvif's son, and I will be free" (p. 5)

"I want to see. Is that so much to ask?" I kept my voice calm, reasonable--the same voice I'd used to convince Dad to take me to Thingvellir today, because I really wanted to visit the national park that was the site of Iceland's ancient parliament and in the middle of a rift valley and, oh, yeah, just happened to be the place where my mother disappeared last summer" (p. 10).

"Teaching Hallgerd was a mistake. She combined the runes in ways I never intended, and in so doing called on fires that yet threaten the land beyond these stones. I think it is not by chance that you've come to me now." He nodded. "It is time to undo my mistake. I will leave with you, Haley, and teach you the sorcery with which to end Hallgerd's spell" (p. 103)

Tasty Rating: !!! ( )
  SJKessel | Jun 8, 2012 |
Though I've never read Janni Lee Simner's debut novel BONES OF FAERIE, I had heard wonderful things about it and jumped at the chance to read her second novel, THIEF EYES. Much to my dismay, I failed to fall in love with Haley's story and found it difficult to finish.

First off, I did enjoy parts of the novel, most notably Haley's attraction to Ari. Even a hint of romance can catch my attention, so this is no surprise. However, the novel is not particularly long, which caused their story to feel rushed and left much to be desired.

I've never read any Icelandic sagas, but I found certain aspects of the mythology to be interesting in the context of the novel's plot. Haley and Ari encounter Muninn*, a black crow and the keeper of memory. In an effort to coerce them into submission, Munin removes all traces of the pair from the collective memory of Iceland's inhabitants. This added an interesting twist to the story and was a clever way to incorporate Munin. Simner successfully incorporates Icelandic myth throughout the entire novel.

I think that my biggest issue with the novel was its glacial pace. I have no problem with novels in which intricate plots slowly unfold, but there was nothing intricate about the plot of THIEF EYES. It was, for the most part, clear how the story would develop, so I just wanted to move on to another novel.

Simply put, I was disappointed by this novel. I think the description and my expectations were far from accurate, leaving me disenchanted. ( )
  thehidingspot | Mar 31, 2012 |
I found this book to be spellbinding and thrilling. Teens and `tweens will enjoy this fabulous fantasy about a young girl who is coming out of her shell and trying to discover the secret to her mother's disappearance. As the story weaves from current reality into another dimension, Norse mythology and magic interlace to create a well transitioned move from reality to fantasy. Vivid descriptions and simplistic conversation allow the reader to follow the thoughts and growth of the young heroine. This story is not without romantic interests and emotional turmoil - every teen's favorite topic. This is a great read for youth looking for a female lead dealing with typical adolescent changes - much like the interesting, yet innocent scenes from the Twilight saga. ( )
  CCCalGal | Jan 12, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375866701, Hardcover)

The latest YA fantasy book from Bones of Faerie author Janni Lee Simner!

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

Janni Lee Simner brings the fierce romance and violent passions of Iceland's medieval sagas into this twenty-first-century novel, with spellbinding results.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:15 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Haley's mother disappeared while on a trip to Iceland, and a year later, when her father takes her there to find out what happened, Haley finds herself deeply involved in an ancient saga that began with her Nordic ancestors.

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