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Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
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Originally posted at FanLit.
http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/museum-of-thieves/

It??s Separation Day and 12-year old Goldie is finally going to be separated from her parents and guardians. Literally separated. For in the town of Jewel, where the most important value is safety, children are always chained to a parent or guardian during the day and tied to the bedpost at night. And when they do something wrong, as Goldie is prone to do regularly, theyƒ??re put in heavy ƒ??punishment chains.ƒ?

This year the Grand Protector has lowered the separation age from 16 to 12 because she believes that Jewel is much safer than it used to be. But her brother, the Fugleman, and his henchmen, the Blessed Guardians, have conspired to ruin this yearƒ??s Separation Day and to keep the kids in chains. But Goldie escapes and that means her parents have to go to the dungeons. Can Goldie stay free and get her parents out of captivity, too?

Goldie ends up at a strange place called the Museum of Dunt where, it turns out, they were expecting her. The basement of the Museum is the last stronghold of some of the things the original Blessed Guardians, 200 years ago, protected the children from ƒ?? war, famine, plague, and dangerous animals. The Museum is starting to stir because itƒ??s sentient and it senses trouble coming. The job of the Museum keepers ƒ?? and itƒ??s obvious that Goldie is being groomed as a keeper ƒ?? is to make sure the museum stays calms so the bad things canƒ??t escape again. When the Fugleman finds out whatƒ??s in the museum, he plans to use its horrors for his own advancement. Now Goldie, who has never even been allowed out by herself, must figure out how to stop him.

I listened to the auidobook version of Lian Tannerƒ??s Museum of Thieves with my 10-year old daughter, Tali. Tali enjoyed the story and was entertained by Claudia Blackƒ??s animated narration. However, I found it difficult to become absorbed in Tannerƒ??s story because I just couldnƒ??t suspend disbelief. I found myself constantly thinking ƒ??that would never happenƒ? or ƒ??these adults are too stupid to live.ƒ? I read a lot of speculative fiction, so I am used to suspending disbelief, but Museum of Thieves asked too much of me. An entire society of adults putting up with children attached to them all the time? Children punished by their loving parents by being restrained with heavy clanking chains? Parent sent to the dungeon if their kids are bad? And why would people who hate children (all the Guardians are harsh and hateful) sign up for a job as a Blessed Guardian when it involves having children tied to you all day long? And while the Guardians are spouting all sorts of nonsense such as ƒ??When we endanger ourselves, we endanger others! It is our duty to be safe! Itƒ??s our duty to be afraid!ƒ? itƒ??s really hard to believe that all those adults could be so fearful and idiotic.

There were some aspects of Museum of Thieves that I liked such as the shape-shifting dog, the slaughterbird named Morgue, and the museum whose dimensions keep changing. Most of the characters, though, except for Goldie and a boy named Toadspit, were caricatures ƒ?? the tyrannical villain, the troop of brutish soldiers, the despotic Guardians. None of these were truly convincing.

Thereƒ??s a message for children in Museum of Thieves: be brave, do the right thing, even if itƒ??s scary. But Iƒ??m not sure that message comes across when the context is something so extreme that children in our society canƒ??t even relate to it. Itƒ??s not hard to say ƒ??be braveƒ? when the things that these kids have been afraid of were little dogs, scissors, and water-filled ditches.

Claudia Blackƒ??s narration made the story go even more over the top. She has an awesome voice and performed with much enthusiasm, probably just as the author intended, and I loved her voices for some of the characters, but mostly the narration just emphasized the problems I had with the book ƒ?? the adults sound really stupid and the bad guys sound really eeeeeevil. Thereƒ??s some singing required, and that did not go well ƒ?? it sounded like moaning. During the climactic scenes, Black yelled and screeched so much that my husband came running to see if Tali and I were okay.

Iƒ??m not interested in continuing with the KEEPER trilogy, but Lian Tanner did please my daughter. Tali said that she loved the museum ƒ??because itƒ??s like a different worldƒ? and that she found the story ƒ??mysteriousƒ? and ƒ??adventurous.ƒ? She also gave the narration a thumbs up. Since Tali is the target audience, Iƒ??m giving Museum of Thieves 3 stars for succeeding there. However, I think the best childrenƒ??s fantasy appeals to both children and adults. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
A strange, fantastical little story. ( )
  daatwood | Nov 21, 2013 |
I enjoyed this tale, with its whimsical, fantastical feel. It reminded me rather of Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series. The world is delightfully easy to engulf oneself in and the characters are interesting and engaging. It ahs a few darker moments, but nothing serious and was overall a delightful and appealing read. ( )
  LemurKat | Sep 12, 2013 |
In the city of Jewel, children are kept chained to an adult at all times to keep them "safe". When the ceremony day finally arrives for Goldie Roth to get her freedom, a bomb explodes in the city and the release is canceled. Goldie, unable to bear the thought of more years of constrainment, takes advantage of the commotion and escapes on her own. She is led to the Museum of Dunt, an ever-changing place that holds many secrets of the past. In this mysterious atmosphere, Goldie learns what many children of old knew instinctively, how to be a leader. An interesting book appropriate for grades 4-8, this 312 page fantasy has unique features that should draw and hold boys as well as girls, after the slowish start. ( )
  sgrame | Sep 6, 2013 |
Museum of Thieves is a great middle-grade to young adult novel, but can most definitely be enjoyed by all. I suppose it would technically fit into the category of dystopian fantasy, but while reading it I sensed more of a "magical" and "fairy-tale-like" vibe coming off from it.

Our 12-year-old protagonist is Goldie Roth, who has lived in the tyrannical city of Jewel all her life. In a society obsessed with "protecting the children," she and all her peers are forced to wear silver guardchains and obey their overseers called the Blessed Guardians until they reach the age of Separation.

When a bomb attack cancels Goldie's Separation Day, she runs away in a panic only to end up at the Museum of Dunt where she meets its mysterious caretakers and a boy named Toadspit. Together with her new friends, Goldie takes a stand against the Blessed Guardians and their leader whose diabolical plans won't just mean bad news for Goldie, but would threaten the lives of everyone in Jewel.

Do yourselves a favor: if you ever get the choice between reading the book or listening to the audio version, choose the latter. Back when I was still an audiobook noob, I could never understand what the big deal was. So instead of reading the words off the paper, you're just listening to someone read them back to you. No huge difference, right?

Except there is. Now that I've had more than a hundred audiobooks under my belt, I can understand how the choice of narrator can make or break a story. Claudia Black, the narrator for Museum of Thieves is probably best known to sci-fi fans for her role in the show Farscape, but I recognize her more from her voice work for video games like Dragon Age: Origins or Uncharted 2. And knowing her talent for voice acting, I guess I really shouldn't have been surprised what a brilliant narrating job she did here.

Still, just because you have a seasoned actor doing the narrating, does not mean they will do a good job. In fact, I find that some of my favorite Hollywood actors and actresses have made for the absolute crappiest audiobook narrators. That talent they have on screen somehow doesn't translate well to this format. Because if the experience with audiobooks had taught me anything else, it's that, no, narrating a book is NOT just like reading back the words on paper out loud. You can easily screw it up.

However, Claudia Black handles it all like the pro she is. She's got the different voices down with her use of tones and accents, so never once was I confused as to which character in the book was speaking. She's also great with other effects like infusing her voice with emotion or varying her volume. She's also got the most sensual voice, and even as a straight and happily married woman I must admit that listening to her always gives me pleasant tingly chills down my spine. I think I could listen to her read forever.

But enough gushing about Claudia Black. Like I said, the book itself is a fantastic read, but this is one of the few cases where the audiobook narration makes it even better. Maybe it's the fact this book was meant for young audiences, but I just didn't find the characters to be that deep or well-constructed -- but again, one of those shortcomings that a good narrator can make up for. The setting is suitably fantastical, especially descriptions of the museum and all the wonderful treasures and places within. The story itself is fun and entertaining, even for adults, though its message of growing up and independence is admittedly more appropriate for younger readers.

Seriously, though, if you're interested in this and can get your hands on the audiobook...do it. And be sure to also check out my fellow blog contributor Wendy's take on Museum of Thieves! I have her to thank for pointing this series out to me. ( )
  stefferoo | May 8, 2013 |
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In those days, the museum had four keepers:- Herro Dan, Olga Ciabolga, Sinew and the boy Toadspit.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385739052, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010: In the city of Jewel, safety and temperance are prized above all other virtues. Goldie, an impetuous girl with a talent for petty thievery, is eagerly awaiting her Separation, in which her silver guardchain connecting her to her parents for safety is finally cut. When tragedy strikes and the city’s sly and deceptive ruler, the Fugleman, cancels all Separations indefinitely, Goldie decides she’s had enough of safety and runs away to the fascinating, mysterious Museum of Dunt. Yet this museum is no dusty educational edifice, as Goldie soon learns: it has moods and feelings like a living being. Its shape-shifting rooms house not historical artifacts, but great and terrible powers that, if unleashed, could destroy the city. In the museum, Goldie meets a quirky cast of misfits, including Toadspit, an Oliver-Twist-like ragamuffin living in the museum; Sinew, a harp-toting spy; and Broo, a talking dog with secret powers of his own. Before long, however, the Fugleman discovers the secret of the museum and tries to use its powers to tighten his control of the city, and it’s up to Goldie, Toadspit, and Broo to stop him. Lian Tanner’s Museum of Thieves is filled with characters who are oddball but meaningful, a dystopia-for-beginners plot that is at once serious and silly, and a pace fast enough to draw in even reluctant readers. The thrilling conclusion teaches that courage and freedom are virtues, too, even if they mean a few scrapes along the way. --Juliet Disparte

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Goldie, an impulsive and bold twelve-year-old, escapes the oppressive city of Jewel, where children are required to wear guardchains for their protection, and finds refuge in the extraordinary Museum of Dunt, an ever-shifting world where she discovers a useful talent for thievery and mysterious secrets that threaten her city and everyone she loves.… (more)

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