Story Thieves – Is Fiction Really Stranger Than True Life?

Story Thieves

By James Riley

Spoiler Alert!



Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…

…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I read Half Upon A Time fairly recently with my youngest son. It was such a fun quirky tale, I had to read another story by the same author.

Story Thieves has elements I love to see in middle-grade fiction. It is fun, has over-the-top characters, crazy inexplicable situations, and a quick pace.

Who wouldn’t want to jump into stories? Especially when life is humdrum. After reading about Bethany getting to eat some of the chocolate from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the Oompa Loompas weren’t looking, I had to go find my secret stash of chocolate to console myself that I couldn’t jump into books. Owen had a better solution – possibly blackmail – or at least the power of persuasion to get inside a book.

Owen specifically LIES and wants to get into his favorite book to save his favorite character, which he does with disastrous results.

The fictional character, within the already fictional world, Kiel is hilarious. He is always winking and saying pithy things that don’t really mean anything but to him they change the world. Eventually, even Bethany find him fun and charming. The Magister is the opposite side of fun because we love to hate him. The clear cut lines of good and evil in this book work really well for the campy humor. Until…the line is blurred. The Magister has a heart to heart with Merlin and Bethany and then all the stops are out. What will he really do?

Chasing. If I described the pacing it would be chasing. They are chasing in and out of books, leaping and hiding. Bad guys chase them. They chase away the bad guys. Yep. Chasing covers the fast-paced action. When travel by book is made possible, count me in. And what would happen if you could have superpowers written into you? WEll, to find out more you will have to read the story.

To end this review, I am going to tell you a secret. One of my favorite parts is when Bethany explains to the Magister why we read books. She tells him it isn’t because we want a cheap thrill (she may have said that a little differently) but because we want to be with them, the characters in their world. We read because we want to experience another life. I thought it was a poignant moment amongst all the craziness of the fun story. Will kids get it? Maybe not, but that’s okay because they’ve enjoyed the world they stepped into with Story Thieves.

By the end, Owen thought he was ready for boring, normal day living – after all surely, true life isn’t as strange as fiction. But…

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle


If you love Story Thieves try Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers, another one of my all-time favorites.

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
This entry was posted in children's books, middle-grade books, young adult book reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s