Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves
The spoiled son of an English lord gets his comeuppance and achieves his true potential in this fast-paced coming-of-age adventure from newcomer Raney. When James Morgan’s long-absent father, a famous naval captain, is murdered by a cabal of villains, 11-year-old James goes on the run. He eventually ends up in London, where he runs afoul of the King of Thieves, who steals his father’s last gift: a wooden box that contains the key to a great and mysterious treasure. Adopted by the feisty Ratt Brothers gang, Jim must learn to be a thief to retrieve the box and avenge his father. Pirates, talking birds, double-crosses, and a magical twist also factor into this blend of Dickens and Stevenson. While Raney paints an almost idealistic picture of life on the streets, with adults mostly portrayed as untrustworthy scoundrels or bumbling fools, the story is full of energy and a sense of wonder. Even an overly moralistic ending doesn’t detract too much from the swashbuckling, death-defying air that the author establishes. Ages 8–12.