In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself.
Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her dera’s finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen.
An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia’s life forever, and she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous political war. The stakes are greater than any heist she’s ever performed. When the battle brings her face to face with her father, Razia has the chance to reclaim everything she lost…and save her prince.
Stealing Thunder is a unique telling of the story of a transgender woman, Razia Khan. Razia is a dancer who makes extra money on the side stealing for her dera, and the reader follows her story as she meets a prince with whom she falls in love. Razia’s allying with the prince forces many decisions she has made throughout her life to come to a head, as she is taking steps to determine her own fate.
To me, this book can be broken up into 2 pieces: the story of a transgender woman, and a fantasy story. I thought the former is really well-written. Razia’s journey from Prince of Nazim to her realization of who she was inside and all of the joy and pain that went along with it, is fascinating. There were moments of extreme emotion in the book. At times, I was happy for Razia as she finds things that bring her pleasure and people that accept her for who she is. I even felt proud of her for her courage in choosing to be herself and live her life the way she wants. Other times her pain and suffering felt overwhelming as she dealt with being marginalized, as oftentimes people she interacted with did not even try to hide their bigotry. The author even wrote a lot of sensuality into the story, which is a side of Razia I enjoyed exploring. The depiction of Razia as a transgender woman was great, as the reader gets to see all sides of her and her journey. I got to know Razia well during this book, and I really cared about her fate. Big props to the author, Alina Boyden, on that front.
As far as the fantasy plot line goes, I thought it was just okay. It started off in a good place, and I liked the premise. As the story continued, though, it started to feel a little thin to me. As plot lines go, I have become to expect and appreciate the back-and-forth, high-and-low nature of fantasy. It felt to me as reading the characters with whom Razia allies herself have everything go right. There are never any drawbacks to their military plans, everything always goes smoothly. I wish the story was a little deeper as far as world-building goes, as well. The author created an interesting world, and I would have liked to see more of it.
In sum, as on point as I thought Razia’s personal journey was, the fantasy story itself seemed light and unbalanced to me.
Overall, I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I suggest overlooking the narrow plot and losing yourself in Razia’s journey. I recommend this book for fans of fantasy, and those who are interested in stories focused on marginalized persons, in particular.