A couple of years ago, when I turned the last page of Tonke Dragt’s The Letter for the King, I felt like I had travelled back in time. I felt I had mingled with knights on horses, visited medieval forts, and met quirky characters that made my head spin, along the way. I felt rejuvenated at the end of it.

That’s exactly how I feel now after reading The Goldsmith and the Master Thief. I was swept along, right from the beginning, on the many rip-roaring adventures that the twin brothers Laurenzo and Jiacomo get into. Most of the 12 stories are anchored on mistaken identities and the situations that ensue because of how much the brothers resemble each other. But they have very different personalities – Laurenzo is the steady, practical, and sensible sort while Jiacomo is the restless thrill-seeker, always ready for something new – which they leverage to their benefit, working as a team.

Through it all there are strong themes of loyalty, honesty, and kinship that I saw in The Letter for the King, as well. But what I particularly liked in The Goldsmith and the Master Thief is a strong thread of conscience and a belief in fact vs fiction. Without giving away spoilers I can say the Eighth Tale of the Inn of Elvenghest is a prime example.

If there is any magic at all, it’s in Dragt’s writing, so wonderfully brought alive by Laura Watkinson’s skilful translation. It’s what makes this book such a delightful and arresting read not just for children but also for adults.

A big thank you to Pushkin Press for this ARC. I can’t wait to read more of Dragt!

Pic courtesy: Pushkin Press

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