Title: Cat Burglar
Author: Tamsin Cooke
Series: The Scarlet Files #1
Genre: Children’s/MG Fantasy Adventure
Age Range: 10+
Schoolgirl by day, cat burglar by night…
Scarlet McCall thinks she has it all figured out. She and her dad are on a mission to return stolen treasures to their rightful owners. But when they take an ancient Aztec bracelet, her world turns upside down.
Dad goes missing, and mysterious powers erupt inside Scarlet. She’s hunted by sinister people, who will stop at nothing to possess the bracelet. Searching for her dad, Scar must learn who to trust before it’s all too late.
Source: Review copy from Oxford Children’s Books via Amazon Vine
Scarlet McCall is not your average thirteen year old. In school she spends her time trying to attract as little attention as possible, while at home she’s constantly trying to prove to her dad that she’s the perfect partner for his cat burgling business. Spirited and resourceful, Scarlet is a quick learner and determined to show her dad how good she can be. But even though she thinks she knows how serious the family business is, she’s about to learn that she doesn’t know the half of it – and even what she does know, might not be quite so true after all.
This was fun. Yes, it does all rather revolve around illegal activities, but with a title like this, it’s hardly a secret that Scarlet and her father are thieves. Ones with good intentions – returning ancient artifacts to their rightful owners. Mostly. Or that’s what Scarlet chooses to believe, when she thinks about it at all. At first she’s much more interested in showing how clever and smart she is and getting away with the whole thing. It’s not until Ethan starts helping that she begins to question things and they become a little less straightforward.
If I’m honest I found Scarlet a little irritating at first, the way she doesn’t always do as she’s told because she thinks she knows better than her dad. But as the danger mounts and Scarlet is on her own, I really admired her cleverness and quick thinking. It was also fun to see the tables turned and have her trying to keep a less experienced partner under control. Scarlet definitely has a lot to learn throughout this book, but it’s fun to see her try.
The thing I liked best, though, was the Aztec storyline. The bracelet and the masks and the myths and the magic. It made a glorious change from Greek/Roman/Norse and I am thoroughly in favour of jaguars. I also loved that Scarlet was completely in charge here. While Ethan was the one checking his hair and making sure he looked good, Scarlet was too busy trying to save her dad and avoid attention for any of that. They make a good team, with each having their own strengths and weaknesses that aren’t confined to traditional gender roles.
Overall this is a great, fast-paced, action-packed read, with a fun set of characters, some intriguing mythology and much more magic than I expected. It gets a bit violent at times, with some scenes that might scare younger readers, but for confident readers who enjoy adventure this will go down a treat. I look forward to seeing what Scarlet gets up to next.