Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review: Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner


After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

Janni Lee Simner brings the fierce romance and violent passions of Iceland's medieval sagas into this twenty-first-century novel, with spellbinding results.


A magnificently weaved tale of magic and lore, Thief Eyes spins a new twist on sorcery. Pulling in several elements in unexpected ways, Simner has created a piece that is both refreshing and engaging. Set in Iceland and heavy on the culture and land, there are numerous unique aspects of this book.

Starting with a prologue that will capture the reader’s attention and spark many questions, the book spends only a small amount of time settling in before the action picks up and the plot really begins. Though she came to Iceland to try finding her mother who disappeared a year earlier on a visit with her father, Haley ends up learning far more about her mother’s disappearance and her family tree than she ever imagined possible. Throughout, the reader learns each new element at the same pace Haley does with little clues in advance to give insight.

Haley’s character is one that can easily be understood and though the story picks up before the reader can really come to know her, the basic facets of her personality come out with each new event and obstacle she faces. This brings in a distinctive feature of the book, as the reader actually meets Haley in times of stress and completely foreign situations rather than seeing a shift between how she acts in a comfortable setting before being thrust into something new. The overall result is a strong heroine who isn’t afraid to show fear and is full of doubts yet still finds reasons to push forward. She is a character who doesn’t roll over but is also not overly confident.

Ari is developed in the same fashion, allowing the reader to learn about him under the same taxing circumstances as Haley. Though he does hold some of the same traits, this is borne out of their common situation rather than lack of insight from the author. They find strength in each other and keep the other going, forming a strong bond and companionship that could only be forged under the circumstances. Had they spent more time together prior to being thrust into this world of magic and confusion, the final outcome of their relationship could very well have been different.

The plot is well developed and thought out and though the pace is start and stop there are plenty of curveballs thrown. Romance is mixed in, cropping up at unexpected moments and providing some relief in the midst of the rough situations. Simple in nature once exposed, Simner’s writing keeps much of the secrets hidden until revealing at perfect times to surprise the reader as well as keep the pages turning. With vivid descriptions and a highly imaginative world intermixed with modern Icelandic geography and culture, Simner has built a piece that will stand out and is a must read.

Source: ARC received for review from author/publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (April 27, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375866701
ISBN-13: 978-0375866708


  1. This book sounds like something I would want to read :) Thanks for the review.

  2. Nice review! I still don't know if I wanna read it though...

  3. Great review...I hadn't heard of this one but after reading the review I immediately put it on my TBR list, thanks for the rec!

  4. I wasn't a fan, but I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it! Well written review!

    And thanks for linking THE HIDING SPOT! :) I appreciate it!