The Thief’s Daughter

Written by Victoria Cornwall
Review by Viviane Crystal

Cornwall, England, in the 1700s is a dreary, impoverished, and tough place to live. When Jenna was a child, she had an experience that remains one of the most terrible memories of her life, one that made her resolve to remain honest no matter what circumstances arose. The thief-taker came to arrest members of her family, who were never to be seen again because they were executed. Now Jenna’s only brother, Silas, and his wife and children are in debtor’s prison, and the only way Jenna can save them is by getting into the black market business. Jenna, therefore, first tries to hire herself out as a maid. Her service is bought by Jack Penhale, a thief-taker out for his own revenge. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

What is so striking about this novel is the age-old question, “Should a thief be punished if he or she is stealing to avoid dying from starvation?” Why did the Crown spend so much money finding and executing smugglers instead of helping poor people to find a job that would enable them to live above subsistence level? Cornish life is hard but perhaps is made somewhat easier for those in love. The Thief’s Daughter is a simple story that has more romance, adventure and mystery than history within its tense, plot-driven pages. The plight of those forced to participate in the black trade is a dire situation carefully and potently portrayed by Victoria Cornwall.