Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex – review

Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex is one of the Twelve Planets series published by Twelfth Planet Press (made up of 12 boutique collections of stories by Australian writers). It is made up of four shorter stories, including:

  • Alchemy
  • The Fountain of Justice
  • The Subject of O
  • Thief of Lives

Unlike Love and Romanpunk these four stories are not related to each other. Indeed, two of the stories (The Fountain of Justice and The Subject of O) don’t have any fantastical elements that I could see at all. The writing is excellent – I have heard/read very positive reviews of Ms Sussex’s work elsewhere and I can see from the quality of this work that those reviews are well deserved.

My favourite story of the group was The Thief of Lives. It was one of those stories where you don’t really know what is going on at the start (well at least I didn’t) and you become more oriented as things unfold. I really enjoyed the concept, and although I don’t have enough experience with writing and the publishing scene to know for sure, I suspect there might be some references that would amuse insiders.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my other favourite of the bunch was the other story with fantastical elements Alchemy. Set in ancient Babylon, it tells the story of a woman on a path to become a master perfumer and a demon with a fascination with the sciences who sees in her the opportunity to radically advance chemistry. The ancient world was beautifully rendered in this story and I found the description of the demon’s traversal of timelines intriguing.

The Fountain of Justice is a crime story with a sort of Underbelly (Australian crime drama for any overseas readers) feel to it. Again beautifully written but not as much my cup of tea.

I’m not really sure how to describe The Subject of O – it was an interesting read, but nothing speculative about it and I suspect meant for a different audience than me. Still, Ms Sussex’s writing is excellent and I liked the story without being totally captivated by it.

All in all, another excellent addition to the Twelve Planets series.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews


Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

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