Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

Title: The Pearl Thief
Series: Code Name Verity #0.5
Written by: Elizabeth Wein
Published: May 2, 2017 by Disney Hyperion

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Before Verity . . . there was Julie. 

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital. 

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation. 

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime. 

In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.

I'm a huge fan of Code Name Verity and I was super excited for a prequel to learn more about Julie before the book that I fell in love with her in. And while this was a pretty good book, it didn't have quite the heart of Code Name Verity.

One of the things that I liked about this book was the plot development. It's a subtle kind of mystery, which I actually appreciated more than I expected. There aren't a lot of clues to solve but there is a pretty good mystery that doesn't really unfold to the end of the book. I thought I had it all figured out, and I did figure out some aspects, but there were still some surprises and reveals. I really liked the way it all unfolded and it kept me reading until the very end. However, I do wish there was a little bit more to the mystery. This book isn't really a mystery, and I wish it was, it is more a book that has a mystery.

The other thing that I liked about this was the setting. And I mean both the historical stuff and the physical setting. The historical fiction aspect was a little low key, but it was still interesting. It was less about what was happening during the time period and more about the relationship between the Scottish Traveller people and those who lived in the places they stopped and lived at. It was a really interesting concept and I always like these kind themes.

As far as the physical setting goes, the book is set in Scotland which I loved. You definitely get to explore different places and aspects of the Scottish countryside. I haven't read many books set in Scotland but every one I do I love. Knowing that the author lives in Scotland I feel like you can read her appreciation for the country in the book. Not to mention that there were some subtle Outlander vibes and references that I totally loved.

However, the thing that pains me to say is that I didn't really love the characters. I mean I deeply connected with Julie in Code Name Verity and I was really excited to see her become the character that I know and love. She is the same tough and smart Julie in this book. And there are some really great coming of age elements of the book. But still I didn't connect with her as much. Yes, she was interesting and likable, but I just didn't have the same emotional connection to her in this books. It's a very different book and the stakes are much lower here which may have impacted it. But don't get me wrong, I do still love Julie.

I think however that I didn't love the secondary characters as much and that impacted how I felt about the book as a whole. In this book we see Julie back home in Scotland with her family. It was nice getting to know them better and I did like them but they didn't make as much an impression. I felt the same about the Travellers, Euan and Ellen. They were interesting and likable and there was a good friendship aspect but they just didn't affect me the same way that Maddie did. If I'm being entirely honest, I missed Maddie. And really, all this book made me want to do is reread Code Name Verity and let it shatter my feels.

I did enjoy The Pearl Thief but I don't think it quite lived up to my expectations as a Code Name Verity prequel. As a piece of historical fiction it was pretty good, as a mystery it was pretty good, on the whole it was pretty good.

I give The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you liked Code Name Verity check this book out but maybe don't expect it to live up to that amazing book. It is a pretty good historical fiction novel but everything is a little more subtle than that book.

Have you read The Pearl Thief? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I haven't heard of this series, but this does sound pretty good! Historical fiction can be hit or miss for me but I think I may want to give Code Name Verity a try!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. Code Name Verity is amazing! You definitely need to read it. It's one of my all-time favorite historical fiction books. It's so good.