The Thief on the Winged Horse

by Kate Mascarenhas

Relationship Stories Fantasy Books of the Month Crime and Mystery Family Drama

LoveReading Expert Review of The Thief on the Winged Horse

A world-famous doll is stolen in this thought-provoking novel containing a wonderful touch of magic.

Oh how I adored this beautifully crafted and thought-provoking magic realist novel. The Thief on the Winged Horse sits in the real-world as we know it and contains an additional touch of magic. It also sways between genres including crime and relationship, yet feels as believable as can be. A world-famous doll making family is thrown into turmoil when their most valuable doll is stolen. These are dolls that can convey a single emotion to the person who holds them. Only the men in the Kendrick family know how to add the charm, only a Kendrick would know how to take the doll. Kate Mascarenhas adds mysterious layer upon layer to this novel, building an exquisite story. I immediately felt at home, the magic wasn’t meticulously explained, it was just there, sitting almost quietly in the background. This is a book where the world is known, but the enchantment isn’t, and my mind soared as I pondered and explored. I think it would make a perfect read for anyone wanting to take the first step into science fiction and fantasy novels. Multi-faceted, challenging, and entirely captivating, The Thief on the Winged Horse is a truly lovely read.

Liz Robinson

The Thief on the Winged Horse Synopsis

A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the author of the bestselling The Psychology of Time Travel.The Kendricks have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren't coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each has an emotion laid on it; a magic that can provoke bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Persephone Kendrick longs to learn her ancestors' craft, but only men may know the secrets of the workshop. So when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family she sees a chance to grasp all she desires. But then, one night, the firm's most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime... 'Captivating, inventive and tender' ADELE PARKS 'An atmospheric examination of gender inequality' GUARDIAN 'A magical tale that blends very human people with a hidden world of enchantment' WOMAN & HOME 'An addictive fantasy with a smart feminist twist' iNEWS

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781789543834
Publication date: 10th June 2021
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 400 pages
Primary Genre Fantasy
Other Genres:

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The Thief on the Winged Horse Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

The Thief on the Winged Horse is everything I could've hoped for, and more. It takes you on a magical rollcoaster of emotions from the start, and I didn't want it to end.

The story is about the Kendricks who for generations have run a doll making business. One dark day the most precious doll of all is stolen, and the race is on to find it. These are not just any dolls, but magical ones with specific emotions which are felt whenever the doll is handled.
We're introduced to many characters, and I couldn't wait to get to know them more. Persephone Kendrick was my favourite who longed to be a sorcerer, but it has been 200 years since a woman achieved this.
The 2 plots are beautifully woven without one taken over the other, and the end left me feeling satisfied although I wish it could've gone on forever.
Not my usual read by any means, but I'm so pleased that I gave it a chance.

Lisa Rowsell

A magical story that will capture your heart from the first page to the last.

I've read a great many books and it takes a lot these days to draw me in from the first page. Perhaps I really had no expectations of this novel and thought it would be fun to read. I was wrong. This is a beautiful story and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

The Kendrick family have made dolls for years but these are no ordinary dolls. The women of the family are given a hex on their 13th birthdays and these hexes contain a single emotion. Every doll in the factory is give one of these emotions but although the hexes are given to the women, all the sorcerers are men.

Persephone works in the shop selling the dolls and Hedwig looks after her uncle Conrad, the head of the family. When Larkin comes along claiming to be a long lost member of the family, neither of their lives will ever be he same again.

As you can see, I really loved this book - it was easy and enjoyable to read but full of complex ideas about families and relationships and what people will do to change their own lives and to get what they want.

I highly recommend this book and will be going back to look for more by Kate Mascarenhas.

Kerry Bridges

A fast-paced, magical mystery that will keep you hooked from the very first chapter.

It's not often you come across a book that is set in current times but manages, completely believably and seamlessly, to weave in elements of magic. The book was fast-paced and engaging. There was no slow introduction here. I was hooked from the first chapter! One of the central character, Persephone, is a member of the Kendrick family, known for making dolls that elicit a particular emotion from the person holding it. A doll of particular significance is stolen and only a member of the family could have been the culprit.

I particularly enjoyed the way the author slowly revealed the magical elements to the story through the eyes of a long-lost family member, learning at the same time he does. I also thought the parts where the author describes the history of the family were fascinating – it’s a shame that more time wasn’t spent on this as I feel it would have really added to the book.

There wasn’t a great deal that I didn’t like about this book. The ‘big reveal’ at the end comes up quite fast. There could have been a bit more build up which would have added to the intrigue, but perhaps I just wasn’t ready for it to end without answering all the questions I had. The other fairly minor issue was that there were a couple of scenes (I won’t go into detail as it would spoil the plot) that just seemed incongruous. The book read like a Young Adult book until those scenes cropped up and they didn’t really seem to fit in. I didn’t enjoy the book any less as a result, though.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anybody with an interest in fantasy novels. There is a bit of a feminist theme which I enjoyed. I do hope the author writes a prequel as I was intrigued by the family history, particularly the four women who are the ‘founders’ of the family craft, as I think there is a great story waiting to be told there!

Samantha Cheesman

An engrossing read that transports the reader to a magical folktale setting.

I was captivated by the blurb and the promise of dolls emitting a single emotion, e.g. bucolic bliss.

The story revolves around a workshop founded by sisters and where only members of the Kendrick family were permitted to work there and only the men held the secrets to making the dolls and bestowing them with enchantments. The undercurrents of discontent wrought by this patriarchy are brought to a head with the arrival of Larkin, claiming blood ties to the Kendricks.

Whilst the plot itself was fairly predictable, I nonetheless enjoyed the writing and the magical atmosphere it evoked. This sometimes felt a bit at odds with the more contemporary setting of life in bustling London and particularly Oxford. However, it did serve to underline the almost parallel universe and fairylike nature of Paxton’s Eyot.

The female characters were very much the strongest, and so the more interesting ones; the male ones very much felt like foils for them, even the main ones, such as Larkin and Briar.

All in all, it was an interesting read and provided very much needed escapism for a few hours.


I really enjoyed this book from start to finish.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters and plot were brilliant, although I got a little confused at times with the time period in which the book was set. I thought there was a great theme of 'girl power' throughout the book, with Persephone being a strong female lead! My only criticism is I felt the ending was rushed and could have been expanded on.

Emily Chick

Complex female characters wrapped within an engaging and lyrical style. Recommended.

The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls are not coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. Intriguing starting point. Mascarenhas continues with her strength in creating strong complex female characters wrapped within an engaging and lyrical writing style. I was intrigued by the way in which she deals with men and emotions - it is the male that take the lead role in creating the dolls and it is men who buy the dolls. The ending felt a bit rushed but not enough to spoil my thorough enjoyment of the book. I will certainly seek out more books by this author. Recommended.

Barbara Gaskell

Kate Mascarenhas Press Reviews


'Witty, inventive and unflashily wise about human hearts; Mascarenhas's future promises to be an exciting one' Guardian.

'An intriguing, multi-layered mystery that is ingeniously plotted' Daily Mail.

'Breathtakingly tender and wryly understated ... An astonishing debut' New York Times.

'Troubling and inspiring, comforting and horrifying' SciFiNow.

'Captivating, delightful and thorougly original' Jennie Melamed. '[A] vividly imagined second novel' The i.

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781789543834
Publication date: 10/06/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781789543810
Publication date: 12/11/2020
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781789543827
Publication date: 12/11/2020
Format: Paperback

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About Kate Mascarenhas

Kate Mascarenhas is a part-Irish, part-Seychellois midlander. Since 2017, Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Before that she worked as a copywriter, a dolls' house maker, and a bookbinder. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. Her first novel, The Psychology of Time Travel was published in 2018 to wide acclaim.

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