“City of Saints and Thieves” by Natalie C. Anderson

I read this in a buddy-read with Rachel from Life of a Female Bibliophile. We initially planned to read The Devourers by Indra Das together but after a few pages in, we realized it wouldn’t work well for a buddy-read. The pace was ploddingly slow, it’s character-focused, which I usually love, but neither one of us were interested in the characters. The story is interesting and my curiosity about what will happen next makes me tempted to complete it, but — ugh! — I really am not feeling it.

So we switched books. Rachel suggested City of Saints and Thieves and I decided to try it since I’d never heard of it or its author before. Unfortunately, the library branches close to my house didn’t have it in stock but eventually I was able to procure a copy from a different area.

Goodreads summary:

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller. (Goodreads)


YA Mystery


January 2017

My thoughts:

So. I’m not a fan of revenge stories. I get quickly annoyed by protagonists who are motivated by revenge and that’s exactly what happened while I read this. I just do not like revenge as a motivator. I think it gets stale very quickly and becomes easy for the character to run out of steam. I do not like it.

I can’t remember if I read the synopsis before starting the book (probably not), so I didn’t realize Tina, the protagonist, was seeking revenge for her mother’s death until I was well into the story. Back then in those early chapters, I didn’t care. I liked Tina’s attitude as she tells us how best to be a thief and how her confidence that bordered on arrogance. I liked that the story is set Kenya, the descriptions of the settings, the characters, the hints at the current political climate, and that the story touches on corruption, so the revenge plotline didn’t stand out to me then. I was enjoying myself reading the book.

But then it did. It began gradually. Tina comes off as a cocksure character, especially when she compares herself to Greyhill’s teenage son (I forgot his name), so I was lured into believing that Tina was sure of all she believes. Now I don’t mind unreliable characters or characters who are operating on limited information, but I do get annoyed by characters who act like a badass and believes they know all but overlook major obvious things that will later bite them in the ass. That happens a lot in YA stories and it always annoys me. I wouldn’t say it’s a major fault with this story; it’s just a big pet peeve of mine that, with this book, I realized I can’t bypass. So, after realizing that Tina isn’t the badass she believes herself to be and that after a point the story became very predictable, I started to skim the book.

I no longer cared what became of the characters or how the plot unfolded. I was tempted to give up on the story, but I wanted to know who murdered Tina’s mom, so I skimmed the book until I found that out. However, I wouldn’t say this is a bad book. It’s well written, the story immediately draws you in, and the plot is fairly fast-paced. It just didn’t work for me because my pet peeves annoyed me.

Overall: ★★★☆☆ 1/2

Pet peeves aside, it’s a decent read and an engaging story set in Kenya that focuses on refugees and corruption.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

10 thoughts on ““City of Saints and Thieves” by Natalie C. Anderson

  1. Sounds like a great beginning and introduction to the characters. It’s sad that the latter end of the book fell apart. Revenge plots can turn and twist as the character delves into the whys and come out a different story in the end. Thanks for the honest review! ♥️


  2. A whole book centered around a revenge plot is definitely not something easy to do. I can see why you don’t like them. A bit sad that you only found out after investing into this book! Great honest review, Zezee.


  3. The fact that the story is set in my country is what interests me about this one. Like you, I am never really keen on the whole revenge thing. I don’t even watch those movies because they always end up with a lot of shootings and no clear plot-line. Glad you said that this one is well written. Might just check it out. Great review!


    1. Thanks. And it’s a good story I just get really annoyed by the whole revenge thing. I’d certainly recommend it.
      For me it was also fun reading it because I think it mentioned ugali in there n I was so happy I recognized it cause my friend had just told me about making ugali.


  4. Great review. Totally get what you mean about the revenge thing. I think it can be well done and I do enjoy them myself, but it’s often not done well and it really can run out of steam. I kind of like the stories where it starts out as revenge and then the character decides that’s not what’s most important to them anymore.


    1. I don’t mind that sort of story either and I don’t think I’d mind the revenge plot much if it makes total sense why the character is out for revenge. But I get so annoyed and angry when it’s obvious that the character is wrong or is operating on incorrect info and is destroying peep’s lives because of it. It irks me so much.

      Liked by 1 person

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