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Book Review: ‘Princess of Thieves’ by Mari Mancusi, A Disney Twisted Tale

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Disney continues its Twisted Tales series with its newest entry Princess of Thieves by Mari Mancusi. This time around it’s the classic story of Robin Hood that is getting a rewrite. This time around Robin is a bit of a coward. He’s hiding in Sherwood forest and is more concerned with himself than poor villagers being terrorized by the Sheriff and Prince John. Luckily Maid Marian is there. She’s returned from overseas and is furious about the condition of Nottingham under the rule of Prince John. She tries to get Robin to help but when he refuses she decides to just take care of business anyway! Now she’s determined to save England, even if she has to do it all by herself.

[ Warning: My review of Princess of Thieves contains some spoilers! Find my other reviews of the Disney Twisted Tales series here!]

Princess of Thieves is a new twist on a legendary tale

The story of old Robin Hood and his merry men has been around for literal centuries. There are a million versions of it floating around, including quite a few where Robin is a woman instead of a man. But Mancusi’s tale is the first version I’ve read where Robin isn’t actually the focus, instead Maid Marian is!

In Princess of Thieves, Maid Marian has been away in France for the past three years while her uncle, King Richard, was off at war. But now he’s coming home, and he’s invited Maid Marian to be part of his council! It’s her dream come true. She also can’t wait to see her childhood friend Robin and see how he’s grown these past few years.

But when she arrives in England she gets a shock, her uncle is dead, Robin is disgraced and hiding in Sherwood Forest, and the residents of England are being treated horribly by Prince John, her uncle’s childish younger brother.

To try to find out exactly what’s happening, Marian tracks down Robin in the woods. She tries to convince him to help her fight for the people of Nottingham, but he refuses. Frustrated and disappointed, Marian decides to take matters into her own hands. Jumping on a chance encounter in the woods, Marian steals gold from Prince John and gives it away to all the animals of Nottingham. She’s seen but as luck would have it, the witness thinks that it’s Robin of Locksley AKA Robin Hood. Soon everyone is singing the praises of Robin Hood and Marian has the perfect cover.

But there’s more going on in Nottingham than just a greedy king. And if Marian wants to really help the animals of England, it’s going to take more than some stolen gold and table scraps. As she uncovers a bigger conspiracy, she realizes she will need some help. Her ever faithful lady-in-waiting, Lady Kluck, is happy to help her, but will the two of them be enough to save an entire kingdom?

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This Disney Twisted Tale actually felt like something new

Robin Hood and his merry men have been around for a very long time, and I’ve lost count of all the different versions of his story I’ve read. Having the protagonist be female isn’t a new idea, but having it be Maid Marian is. I really liked this twist from Mancusi.

Still, having the actual Robin of Locksley in the story was a genius idea. It really highlighted that this wasn’t just the Robin Hood we know being told again but a completely different story. I am so used to Robin Hood being a brave hero who stands up for the little guy that seeing him as a coward was a little jarring. Sure he has his reasons, and Marian accepts them, even if she’s disappointed, but his “reasons” seemed more like “excuses” to me. He had a good life in the woods. It’s basically a nonstop camping trip with all his buddies. Sherwood forest is large enough that really looking for him isn’t feasible, so as long as he stays out of the way, the law leaves him alone. And he is good with that. If others are suffering, that’s sad but not really his problem.

Thankfully, Maid Marian isn’t so selfish. She sees the people hurting, and she has to do something. She could have chosen to just ignore them and go on living a comfy life in the castle, but she doesn’t, and I love her for that. She is plucky and courageous, and she doesn’t need Robin to get things done. Sure, she wishes he would help her, but she doesn’t let his lack of support stop her either.

The fact that he gets credit for what she does is both hilarious and infuriating at the same time. Hilarious because he didn’t want the bad attention that being a vigilant would bring him, and infuriating because he doesn’t deserve the praise. Still, it serves the purpose of shielding Marian from Prince John’s suspicions, so it’s a good thing. I also got a chuckle at how mad it made Robin because I was angry that he wouldn’t help Marian.

Awesome side cast for Princess of Thieves

Disney is known for having great supporting characters, and Princess of Thieves is no exception. Mancusi based her story off the 1973 animated film Robin Hood that we all love, and she chose to keep the characters animals in her adaptation. Which is great because we get treated to a scene where a fat old chicken takes out a whole squad of rhinoceros guards all by herself.

Indeed, as much as I loved Marian, I think the sidekicks are my favorite characters in Princess of Thieves. Lady Kluck is a strong, no-nonsense, wisecracking, butt kicking ball of awesomeness. Little John is funny, supportive, and caring. Tag-along is sweet as can be, and Skippy is the bravest little rabbit I’ve ever seen. Marian might be the leader, but without her menagerie of helpers, she never would have been able to save the day. Long live the sidekicks!

Summer action and romance in one story

For those who like to have a summer romance to relax with this time of year, have no fear. Maid Marian might be taking care of business in Princess of Thieves, but she has a heart as well. Marian is a little unsure of her relationship with Robin at first. After all, they’ve been childhood friends for their whole lives, and taking the leap from friends to a romance is scary. Both of them have deeper feelings for the other, but circumstances are less than ideal for love. And when Robin disappoints Marian, it seems like they have no chance. But love can be a big motivator. If Robin can find the courage to fight for more than himself, maybe their love will have a chance after all. 

Marian and Robin’s romantic dance is intertwined with some very exciting action and a tantalizing mystery. Lady Kluck’s name might make you chuckle, but her combat skills are nothing to laugh at. When Marian makes it clear that she’s going to help the local animals no matter what, Kluck realizes that she needs some training. We don’t quite get a montage, but Marian does get put through the wringer by Kluck. It’s tough, but she never gives up. And good thing because by the end of the book Marian needs to be able to fight if she’s going to save her kingdom!

Now, if you’re thinking that having all the characters be animals makes this a kids book, you’re wrong. Younger readers will undoubtedly enjoy Princess of Thieves, but that doesn’t inherently make it a kids book. The story is engaging and exciting. Honestly, most of the time I kinda forgot that they were animals, then Mancusi would mention an animal by species, and I’d say “oh yeah, it’s animals”. The fact that the characters are animals doesn’t really affect the story at all, except for adding another layer of humor to certain scenes. Thinking of a chicken taking down a rhinoceros or trying to puzzle out how a lion and a fox are family just gave me a little extra enjoyment while I read.

Princess of Thieves is a fun read with a nostalgic pull

Anyone who grew up watching Robin Hood is going to love Princess of Thieves. But even if you haven’t seen the movie, Mancusi’s twist on the classic story is sure to entertain. Princess of Thieves isn’t currently available in US stores yet for some reason. This is the third time that Disney has released a Twisted Tale in Europe and before America. I’m not sure what their reasoning is there, but they didn’t ask me either.

Thankfully, with the magic of the internet, this isn’t too big of a problem. You can find Princess of Thieves for sale online and have it shipped to an American address without any real hassle. So if you’re looking for a fun book this summer, or want to try to entice some summer reading out of your kids, check out Princess of Thieves, it’s sure to please.

Rating: 8/10

Princess of Thieves was released in Australia earlier this year with a UK release scheduled for September 5, 2024, and no US release date yet. Do you read this book series? What do you think of them? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus!

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

Luna Gauthier has 229 posts and counting. See all posts by Luna Gauthier