Your Preview Verdict: The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas

Your Preview Verdict: The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas

The Kendrick family have run their world famous doll-making business for over 200 years. But one night the most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her…

A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the acclaimed author of The Psychology of Time Travel . The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop. Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft , and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires. But then, one night, the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…

Read some 5 star reviews from our Preview readers here:

The Thief on the Winged Horse is as mysterious and fantastical as it sounds. At times the characters’ lives feel provincial and quaint, whittling and wax carving and communing. Yet it feels contemporary and fast-paced, with a powerful sense of the frustration of creative women, of daughters, and of mothers. I loved it. It spoke to my makers’ hands and made me want to reach for delicate paint brushes and learn to paint tiny dolls faces. A charming yet suspenseful read. – Tirion, VIC, 5 Stars

Thanks to Better Reading I read this beautifully enchanting, enthrallingly, mesmerising book: a combination of contemporary magical realism, mystery and fantasy. Located in Oxford, Kendricks is a manufacturer and seller of dolls with a difference: they have an enchantment placed on them by “sorcerers” so that anyone who touches the dolls feels the particular emotion placed on them. Kendricks was originally founded by four sisters but now the secret to placing these enchantments is held by only male relatives of the Kendricks who are permitted to work as sorcerers, much to the frustration of Persephone, niece to Conrad, the current owner of Kendricks. One day a male stranger called Larkin arrives, claiming to be descended from one of the original sisters and seeking employment as a doll-maker. Suspicion ensues amongst the tight-knit community and is inflamed when a famous doll called the Paid Mourner is stolen, perhaps by the thief who appears with a winged horse, perhaps by the fae folk, or someone rather more human maybe. I enjoyed being immersed in this different and yet similar world with its sexism, domestic violence and alcohol dependency as well as romance for a time and would highly recommend it. – Pamela, VIC, 5 Stars

I fell into this story so easily! The Thief on the Winged Horse is a beautifully told tale of tradition, deceit, ambition and love. There were words sprinkled throughout the novel that I’d not come across before and needed to look up, but once I’d read their definition, there honestly couldn’t have been a better word to use. Although it is set in the present, the everyday modern world intrudes so little into the telling that it feels as though an enchantment has been laid over the entire story. It left me wanting just one more chapter. – Michelle, NSW, 5 Stars

What a great read! We are taken on a fascinating journey into the little known world of doll making. The story is set around a family with a long history of sorcery and doll making. The dolls are each enchanted with a feeling that the owner can evoke upon touching the doll. There is an elite group of collectors the hold these dolls in very high regard, and one such doll is so precious that someone went to great lengths to steal it. Full of mystery and intrigue, we are drawn into this world and into the lives of complex characters while trying to figure out who the thief is. The family business of doll making and sorcery, although created by sisters, has for decades been done solely by the men in the family and women are not allowed to know how to perform such duties. So secretive and controversial is this family that the motive to steal the doll could come from several characters. You’re never quite sure who might have done it and the book keeps on twisting and turning in new and exciting ways to reveal the truth. A truly enjoyable book with a very original storyline. – Christine, SA, 5 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas. The Thief On The Winged Horse is a beautiful written story about The Kendrick family who make dolls, but not just ordinary dolls. Each doll has its own emotion laid upon it by a scorcher. The scorchers are all men. The most valuable doll gets stolen one night during a party and the hunt is on to get her back!! This book is very different from anything I have read, so I really enjoyed it. The characters are a mixture of loving, deceitful and mysterious!! I loved that all the characters were from one family, working together but at times against each other!! Five stars!! – Judy, NSW, 5 Stars

The Thief on the Winged Horse is like Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree for adults – full of magic, mystery, characters you love and those you don’t, innocence and the not so innocent scenes with a bit of language and the occasional explicit description. I adored it! – Amanda, SA, 5 Stars

Kate Mascarenhas has written an enchanting story full of family drama and hidden secrets. Set in a small islet in Oxford, you will be transported into the heart of a family that is set in its ways but forgotten its roots. Persephone is one of the leading ladies and her awkward struggle to find her place whilst battling misogyny and pity is heart-wrenching. I can connect with her prickly exterior and lonely interior because she like all the characters are written so flawlessly. Let the author take you on a journey. Set in modern times but with a clear crossover to ancient times, traditions and beliefs. There is no dull moment, the intrigue and interactions keep you engaged and reading. You will surprise yourself at how quickly you become engaged. Whether you love or loath the characters, and there are plenty on both sides, it is a page turner for young and old! – Mary, VIC, 5 Stars

Kate Mascarenhas has me hooked! I have not read her first book The Psychology of Time Travel but I am going to seek it out ASAP. The Thief on the Winged Horse, is a surprising tale of magic, mystery and quirkiness. I think it is the type of tale that appeals to all ages and most readers. I sense there is a sequel coming – fingers crossed. – Lisa, NSW, 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book! I found the characters quite often not pleasant but utterly honest and compelling. I couldn’t get used to the present day timing and was constantly surprised when a mobile was used and pictured the women in long swishy skirts. This didn’t take away from the highly original storyline though. When I first finished this book I thought it ended abruptly but now think I felt that way simply because I wanted to spend more time on the Eyot. I also liked Kate’s style of writing and will certainly be searching out more of her work. – Faye, QLD, 4 Stars

This charming book had me intrigued from the very beginning with its family history and interwoven characters. I found myself transported to olden times where people believed in curses and fairies and I had to remember the setting for the story was actually modern day. The language was beautiful, and I loved the way the characters communicated with each other. The writer weaves in tales of The Thief and the fae folk and has you believing that everything bad that happens in life could be traced back to a single moment in time – a moment where you made a wrong decision, or you betrayed someone, or made a promise that you didn’t stick to. The characters are likeable and interesting and keep you guessing as to who is trustworthy and who is in it for themselves. The writer provides intricate details of doll-making by hand and draws you in to the magic that a child’s toy can evoke. This story had me guessing and at times I forgot that there was a mystery to solve and just found myself enjoying the characters and their relationships. – Nicole, NSW, 4 Stars

The Thief on the Winged Horse is set around the Kendrick family who have been making hand crafted dolls since the 1800’s. A mysterious person, Larkin, approaches the family claiming to be a descendant and wants to begin making dolls. Then one day the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. This book is beautifully written and instantly engaging with the fine description of the intricacies of doll making as well as establishing suspicion within the family with the theft. I particularly liked the involvement of sorcery to give the dolls their individual character and emotion. It’s an enjoyable, intriguing book which is well worth reading. – Brenda, NSW, 4 Stars

Loved this beautifully written book, woven with magic and whimsy. Fell in love with the many layered Persephone. – Deanne, VIC, 4 Stars

Full of intrigue and suspense! The Thief on the Winged Horse is a wondrous tale in the world of enchanted doll making. The clash of fantasy and the modern world produce a clashing of complex characters, culminating in themes of power and control. The dolls stole the show and drove the story like puppets stealing back their strings from the puppeteer! There were some character development scenes that I felt were repetitive and unnecessary, but aside from these, I thought it was great! – Veronica, NSW, 4 Stars

The Thief on the Winged Horse is a rather odd novel about claiming your own power. For two hundred years the extended Kendrick family have made enchanted dolls. In present day Oxford, Persephone Kendrick resents the fact that she, as a female, does not have access to the magic. The appearance of Larkin, a boy claiming kinship with the Kendricks, sets off a series of events bringing change to the old firm. When The Paid Mourner, prized doll of their collection, is stolen, fingers are pointed at Persephone’s drunken father. I enjoyed reading The Thief on the Winged Horse. It was an intriguing tale of fae and history and stark modernity. There was that jarring feeling of being swept from one century to another in the blink of a swear word or the glory of sex. I liked that feeling of disorientation. Was I in Oxford today or somewhere deep in the murky myth-ridden Eyot of two hundred years ago? I give it four stars. An interesting mix of mythology and power, manipulation and family dynamics, doll making and magic. – Danielle, QLD, 4 Stars

This book was awesome! I loved the complex interactions between the characters and the focus on the dolls as the driving force of the narrative. Some of the characters had me fooled until the last pages and I was thrilled to be so expertly misguided by their deceptive personalities. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, mystery or an emotional rollercoaster! – Sarah, NSW, 4 Stars

The Thief on the Winged Horse is a modern version of a classic fairytale. It is a well-crafted story filled with magic, sorcery, superstition, love and deceit. The Kendrick family had been making world famous dolls since the 1800s. This story revolves around main characters of Larkin, Persephone and a doll named the Paid Mourner. The story tells of family dynamics of the Kendricks dynasty which are interwoven with tradition, gender bias, jealousy, deceit and secrecy. This is an inventive storyline based on extraordinary ability and craftsmanship of the dolls creators, and how closed guarded are their secrets within the family. The characters were interesting and believable and I enjoyed the storyline. The only negative was contemporary setting this was a little problematic for me. Overall, this is a well written book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to other readers. Larelle, QLD, 4 Stars

I was enthralled from the first chapter. In my mind the setting was late 1800’s. I pictured the characters dressed in vintage Victorian dress. The women proper, the men dapper with long beards. I pictured the landscape of the Eyot to be rolling hills, tiny cabin homes and somewhat Amish. Even the names of some of the main characters would suggest the same. Surprisingly it is set in way more current times, with quick references to current technology and devices, which takes you back to reread to be sure you read that right. Persephone is my favourite character, making sure she is heard among the male dominated attitude of the doll makers and sorcerers. We read and learn and watch Persephone grow into herself, take charge of herself and rise above domination to achieve her dream. The writer takes an abrupt turn near the end of the book adding a bit of edge to some of the characters which is enlightening at the same time your sympathies for other characters are being tested. Magic, time travel, extortion, betrayal… the fae folk have it all, and these works share it beautifully and take the reader on flight with The Thief on the Winged Horse. – Sharon, QLD, 4 Stars

How refreshing to read a fantasy novel that holds its own in a single volume, without requiring an epic series to sustain the story. It was lovely to be introduced to unique characters that were still relatable to modern audiences, combined with a unique setting. We often assign magical stories to the distant past, however it’s great to see an author that recognises magic can still exist in all of us, no matter the time period. Although an enjoyable read, there are aspects that I would have liked to have seen fleshed out. Even though the title of the novel obviously refers to The Thief on the Winged Horse, I would have liked to see this symbolism drawn out further. I also feel that the relationships that were explored between the characters during the novel could have been treated with more empathy in the conclusion of the story. It was almost like the action was resolved a little too swiftly. This is by no means the perfect novel, however it is very enjoyable and is accessible to a wide audience. Relatable to anyone who has felt like an outsider at times, someone frustrated by their work-life, or someone simply searching for meaningful relationships. These are all explored throughout the novel. On the whole, a solid piece of work. – Angie, NSW, 3 stars

So this started off with so much promise, a unique and interesting premise in a unique setting. Kendricks, a family owned doll making business with a twist… the dolls are all enchanted with different feelings which are invoked once the doll is touched. A crime, a mystery, lots of interesting characters (would have loved more character development/background). I feel like the story dropped off quickly in the second half of the book. I felt the switch between the magical and real worlds was, I don’t know, not seamless. It just didn’t flow well. I loved the slow, drawn out relationship between Persephone and Larkin but it felt like it went from 0-100 within a chapter. I loved the whimsicalness of the magical themes, I loved the stories and history of the family which I would have loved to read more of, especially the four sisters who founded the business. Started off beautifully, unfortunately didn’t really tie it all together that well. – Hanadi, NSW, 3 Stars

An intriguing premise where the modern world collides with a 200 year old tight knit community of sorcerers who create enchanted dolls. The mystery and the detail of the doll making was imaginative but I felt the contemporary setting (in the age of mobile phones and technology) was a bit problematic for the plot. The character of Persephone was well crafted and had depth but Larkin’s character left me unconvinced about his motivation, which was quickly wound up in the final chapters. Overall an enjoyable read if you don’t question anything too deeply. – Tundra, ACT, 3 Stars

The thief on the Winged Horse was very hard to get into. I felt like it was set in 1800’s but then someone was talking about a mobile phone, but the basis was set around the doll factory which is still going to this day. So if you persevere it is a good read. – Donella, SA, 2 Stars

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          Publisher details

          The Thief on the Winged Horse
          Author
          Kate Mascarenhas
          Genre
          Crime Fiction
          Released
          05 August, 2020

          Synopsis

          A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the acclaimed author of The Psychology of Time Travel. The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls aren't coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.But then, one night, the family's most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime... Reviews for Kate Mascarenhas: 'Witty, inventive and unflashily wise about human hearts; Mascarenhas's future promises to be an exciting one' GUARDIAN.'Breathtakingly tender and wryly understated' NEW YORK TIMES.'Captivating, delightful and thoroughly original' JENNIE MELAMED.
          Kate Mascarenhas
          About the author

          Kate Mascarenhas

          Kate Mascarenhas is a half-Irish, half-Seychellois midlander. She has worked as a copywriter, an assistant psychologist, and a bookbinder. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. The Psychology of Time Travel is her first novel.

          Books by Kate Mascarenhas

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