Title: The Goddess and the Thief
Author: Essie Fox
Date of Publication: 20 November 2014
Number of Pages: 310
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 2 stars
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Uprooted from her home in India, Alice is raised by her aunt, a spiritualist medium in Windsor. When the mysterious Mr Tilsbury enters their lives, Alice is drawn into a plot to steal the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond, claimed by the British Empire at the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars.
Said to be both blessed and cursed, the sacred Indian stone exerts its power over all who encounter it: a handsome deposed maharajah determined to claim his rightful throne, a man hell-bent on discovering the secrets of eternity, and a widowed queen who hopes the jewel can draw her husband’s spirit back. In the midst of all this madness, Alice must discover a way to regain control of her life and fate…
Review: I feel a terribly mean person to rate this book only two stars but I will be honest and say this has more to do with personal taste rather than any problems with the book. Essie Fox has written another unique novel, which is going to appeal to a wide range of readers. The story is fascinating, with the most interesting parts revolving around the mythology that permeates every page of the book. What feels lacking is the solidity of the remainder. I found myself unable to visualise the Windsor homes, or Windsor and I found it difficult to like, empathise or feel any connection with the characters. Alice was weak and, I hate to say it, stupid. Mercy was cold without any real reason until a brief history was provided far too late. Tilsbury was written to seem a creep and Fox did succeed in this, however, I was at no point convinced he should be given such an omniscient role. The Goddess and the Thief feels rushed. It feels well planned and well thought out but it hasn’t come together.
I think Fox’s work suffered in my reading because of both, my expectations and because of what I had read previously. It was impossible not to compare The Goddess and the Thief to Lynn Shepherd’s, The Pierced Heart, set during a very similar time frame and handled with more skill.