STORY THIEVES for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Here’s the start of another series from author James Riley, although in his bio he claims to be non-existent. I know his writing from the popular Half Upon a Time trilogy. With Story Thieves he has brought forth an intriguing concept – two kids, Owen and Bethany, leap in and out of a book’s pages and experience what is happening in the story they’re in. story-thieves-9781481409193_hr

It gets quite involved as they get separated in one of Owen’s favorite stories (One you won’t find on the bookshelves, but there are quick journeys into real books). I liked the interaction with the two of them staying together so when they split up it was a disappointment.  Multiple third person POV’s are not my favorite. You just get going on Bethany’s story and then it is interrupted for an update on Owen. Alas, with the way the story unfolds it’s the only logical way to present the tale.

Story Thieves is exciting, funny in parts, and got me thinking – each our lives are a story being written. I’ll keep mine to a single POV.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):  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.


  1. The strength of this plot will grow as more volumes are completed in this series. I was guessing all the way as to what little tidbits of future conflict lie ahead in books to come.
  2. Bethany and Owen are engaging characters. They make for fine protagonists and both experience change in their way of thinking. Bethany is a tough girl who is in charge and Owen is your typical ‘Oh that would be so cool’ boy. Middle level readers have a couple more heroes to cheer for.
  3. I read an author interview recently and the question was describe your book in one word. I’d have to call this one CLEVER.
  4. Kiel makes for an interesting fictional character pulled from his own fictional story into this one. He’s funny and quirky and I’m sure he’s not going away in future books.
  5. With this being a series, I was not surprised by the many loose ends left on the last page. The dangling plot points serve as a great discussion as to what happens next. I’m never right about these things, but there are some enticing possibilities with the characters. Just what you want as an author of a series – readers debating as to what happens next.

FAVORITE LINES: “You don’t ever speak to me again, do you understand? And if you ever tell anyone about me, I’ll find the deepest, darkest math book I can find, and drop you into the most boring part!”

QUOTE FROM AUTHOR: “But by my nature of being ridiculous, it felt like maybe writing for kids might be a fun choice. I have such a love for my favorite childhood authors that it felt like trying to join a club with all of my favorite people already inside. Though it took a lot of knocking!.” SOURCE


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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11 Responses to STORY THIEVES for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Great post, Greg. I’ve pinned this cover to my ‘Covers I Like’, and added to my TBR list.

  2. Sounds like an interesting story. I like that his friend is part fictional. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. cleemckenzie says:

    Laughing at that favorite line. Now that would be a huge punishment for me.

  4. Yes, the book will appeal to kids because it has a great cover. The story sounds complex. But, I’m glad you found it an exciting read and look forward to sequels. Like how the author describes her book as “clever.”

  5. Ooooh!!!! Loving this idea! And I love the favorite line–I would do more than die in that math book. :p

  6. Great concept. This sounds like a really fun read. Thanks for the review and for a terrific quote.

  7. Joanne Fritz says:

    I’m laughing about this: “the deepest, darkest math book I can find, and drop you into the most boring part.” Ha ha! That about sums up my feelings toward math.

    Multiple POVs aren’t my favorite either, but if they’re handled well, like in CRACKED by K.M. Walton, they work beautifully.

  8. Looks totally fun – except for being dropped into a math book…

  9. jennienzor says:

    This sounds like a fun book. My son really loves books where characters go into the story like this–so I need to check this out. There’s something about that concept that’s so intriguing.

  10. warrchick says:

    I love that author quote! So. True. The book sounds like a load of fun, as well, and the kind of twisty escape-adventure I’m so often up for. Thanks for the recommend!

  11. Pingback: STORY THIEVES—SECRET ORIGINS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday | Always in the Middle…

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