The adventure begins when an apparently grief-stricken couple hire detective Victor Getz to track down their missing nephews: Prosper, age twelve and Bo, age five. Instead of languishing in the chill of the Venice streets as their aunt fears, Prosper and Bo have allied themselves with a band of urchins led by a boy who calls himself the Thief Lord.
When a shop owner whispers to the group of a special task for the Thief Lord worth an enormous amount of money, the kids are quick to relay the information to their leader. But not even the Thief Lord could foresee what would happen if the artifact is recovered and the magical merry-go-round is rebuilt.
Quirky characters and quick humor make it easy to get lost in Funke’s award-winning, whimsical tale. Sections from Victor’s point-of-view keep the story grounded and realistic, balancing the children’s idealism and limited understanding of the world around them.
The story creates several moments in which its characters have opportunities to choose how to respond to situations and face grave consequences. When the children discover the true identity of the Thief Lord, they must reevaluate their relationships with him. Some respond with understanding and loyalty, but others embrace feelings of betrayal and remain unforgiving. When the merry-go-round is restored and its magical properties discovered, the children must decide whether it should be used at all.
The variety of narrators make this novel a great read for young and old alike. Recommended especially for readers who enjoy realistic fiction with a twist of fantasy.