Today is my stop on the Escapist Book Tour for the amazing novel by James Lloyd Dulin, No Heart for a Thief. This story holds many dark twists and turn. At the heart of the plot are two main POV’s trying to see the best way forward in a grim world. One has lived a life of pain, death, and sacrifices while the other has just begun to exprience life’s harsh realities. The mentor must try to save the student before it is too late because there will be no turning back.
The Goust Empire has claimed the land our main character live in with the remnants of stolen magic with a great spirit known as the thief behind it all. Kaylo has the ability to hear the songs of other magic users which some might see this as a gift, he lives with it everyday as a curse. His battle with the Goust Empire holds a big and deep scar of his past life and he now lives in a secluded forest living his life in self imposed seclusion eighteen years later. When two Goust soldiers are chasing a girl named Tayen, Kaylo kills the soldiers and takes Kaylo back to his home. While in the process of healing, Tayen tells Kaylo of the death and murder of her family at the hands of the Goust Empire and she has her heart set on vengeance.
Kaylo wants no part of this conquest but allows Tayne to stay until she is fully healed. As time slowly passes, Tayen learns about the great warrior Kaylo once was and starts to hear the songs of the mist. Relunctantly, Kalyo tells Tayen about his dark past and agrees to train Tayen in hopes that he can change her mind from going down a path of no return. I will leave it here in order to not ruin a thing for anyone itching to dive in.
When reading a debut novel, there are usually one or two areas where the author excels at. Whether characters, world-building, magic system, tone, etc. James Lloyd Dulin’s answer is to excel in all of the above. The characters of this story feel real and you can’t help but take in their pain as if it were your own. The grit and dark scenes of this story will stay with you for many days to come. The atmosphere we find ourselves in was second to none as our two main characters, at least in the beginning parts of the story, seem to be one with nature and all of its beauty.
My favorite part of the book was the mentor and student interactions with Kaylo and Tayen. Kaylo wants Tayen to turn away from this dark path but the only way to save Tayen is to teach her the great hardships he onced faced eighteen years ago. We do get flashback scenes for Kaylo but be warned, they are not for the faint of heart. Tayen will not be denied her vengeance but at least she will bring the sharpest knives to the party. The writing is reader friendly but carries a dark undertone with weight and layers behind the words. There are a few twists towards the end that make for a satisfying conclusion while setting up the next book in the series.
No Heart of a Thief will easily be in my Top 10 reads of 2023 and James Lloyd Dulin is an author you will want to keeo a close eye on. This book will sneak up on you even into the twighlight hours of the morning during the work week. I hope this book will make its way onto your TBR someday soon because you will not want to miss out on this!