Open main menu

Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke

Scarlet is thirteen. She goes to school, she does her homework and she's beginning to wonder about boys. So far, so normal. But Scarlet doesn't make friends. She and her dad move house pretty often, and she always wears dull clothes so she can fade into the background – unless you think a balaclava and night vision goggles can be classed as a fashion statement. And instead of surfing the web and downloading music, she spends her free time scrambling over roofs and picking locks. Scarlet is a trainee burglar.

Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke

Buy Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke at or

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Like your young heroes bright, resourceful and determined? Enjoy seeing them take desperate risks to sort the bad guys? Then you'll love this fast-paced and exciting debut about a girl who's training to be a burglar so she and her dad can restore stolen items to their rightful owners. Just keep reminding yourself to breathe!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: January 2016
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780192742599

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram

Not the bad kind, of course – in fact, they replace what they take with such excellent replicas that lots of victims don't even realise they've been robbed. But wars, family disputes and plain old greed mean a lot of valuable items like jewellery and antiques are lost or stolen from their original owners, not to mention the fact that conquering warriors have a nasty habit of plundering vanquished countries for art and religious treasures to adorn their national museums and private collections. Scarlet's parents used to work in secret to return things to their proper homes, and since her mum died in an accident Scarlet has been slowly learning the ropes (excuse the pun) so she can join the family business.

Scarlet and her father set out one night to 'liberate' an ancient Aztec bracelet: the heist goes without incident and father and daughter are soon safely back at home. Scarlet is delighted: this is the first time she's been allowed to take a full part in a job and she dreams of soon being an equal partner with her dad. Sadly, things go downhill really, really fast: the bracelet has mystical powers and the bad guys, determined to get hold of it for their own evil ends, kidnap her father. Readers be warned: some of their attempts to acquire the bracelet do not make for comfortable reading. Scarlet finds herself forced to do something she's never done before in her whole life – trust someone outside the family with information about her secret life. Worse still, it's the boy next door - a girl-magnet hacker with an unfortunate liking for lots and lots of hair gel. Together they steal and hotwire cars, flee from villains and hide from the authorities, and all the while Scarlet's having to cope with the astonishing effects the bracelet is having on her body.

This story is so pacy and thrilling that the fantasy element doesn't seem at all unlikely: readers will be swept along by the drama and simply accept that it happens as Scarlet and her new friend Ethan hurtle towards an ending which is decidedly bitter-sweet. The Aztec belief in shapeshifting and animal twins is an intriguing concept (and an especially useful gift, it has to be said, for apprentice burglars) so if you want to find out more about it, go to Tamsin Cooke's website. There's even a quiz so you can find out what your own Nahualli is. Oh, and by the way, there's no shame in having a rabbit as a spirit animal. Just saying.

While you're waiting for the next instalment of Scarlet's adventures, you might want to try Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black and the sequels Blackout and Lockdown. No super-powers as such, but those young orphans are seriously gifted!

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cat Burglar (The Scarlet Files) by Tamsin Cooke at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.