Hi friends! I took a small hiatus from Thanksgiving break, just to clear my head and become motivated about blogging again. I’m so excited to be back though! And with an ARC review on top of that!
Thank you so much Penguin for an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!
A dark and intricate fantasy for readers of The Book of Dust and Leigh Bardugo. City of the Uncommon Thief is the story of a quarantined city gripped by fear and of the war that can free it.
In a walled city of a mile-high iron guild towers, many things are common knowledge: No book in any of the city’s libraries reveals its place on a calendar or a map. No living beasts can be found within the city’s walls. And no good comes to the guilder or foundling who trespasses too far from their labors.
Even on the tower rooftops, where Errol Thebes and the rest of the city’s teenagers pass a few short years under an open sky, no one truly believe anything uncommon is possible within the city walls. But one guildmaster has broken tradition to protect her child, and as a result the whole city faces an uncommon threat: a pair of black iron spikes that have the power of both sword and needle on the ribcages of men have gone missing, but the mayhem they cause rises everywhere. If the spikes not found and contained, no wall will be high enough to protect the city–or the world beyond it.
This book is a conundrum. I went into it slightly confused, and came out of it even more confused. The thing is, this book features some of the richest worldbuilding I’ve read in a YA book. This is a story brimming with mythology, lore, and history. There’s so much built into this world the author has created, and people who enjoy deep, inspired worlds would definitely appreciate this. On the other hand…
As incredible as the world was, I never felt like I could even begin to grasp the basics of it, let alone the intricacies. Terms, locations, jobs, guilds, creatures, events…they were just thrown out without much explanation. It was all very cool to read, but nearly impossible to understand. It’s sorta like starting a movie such as Avengers: Endgame right in the middle, without any prior Marvel experience. It looks and feels interesting, but you have no idea what’s happening. At all.
City of an Uncommon Thief is told from the perspective of Odd Thebes, a teenage boy who runs lines at the top of guildtowers. He’s also the self-proclaimed bard of Thebes Tower. However, the story is actually about his cousin Errol Thebes. Odd tells the story either from his own first-person perspective, or as a bard telling the third person perspective of Errol Thebes. Yes, it’s about as confusing as it sounds. While I appreciate the unique take on storytelling, it really only hindered the connections I felt to the characters, and their development.
The biggest issue with this book is how the plot is slow enough to feel like a first book, but the amount of unexplained aspects make it feel like a third installment in a series. I can’t properly review the plot, considering it relies on a deep knowledge of the world the author created. As it was, I was half-entertained, half-bored, and thoroughly lost.
There is definitely a lot of potential to be had with this author, considering the depth of the world created, and her captivating writing style. Hopefully, in the future, it will all be better plotted, and better explained. I’d give this a 2.75/5 stars. Tell me a book YOU enjoy with great worldbuilding!