I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Published by Rock The Boat on 6th July 2017 (UK)
Street-thief Tina breaks into the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.
Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.
Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?
You know that feeling when you’re lying in bed at night fighting to keep your eyes open so that you can read just one more chapter? Well, that was me with City of Saints & Thieves – I just didn’t want to put it down.
Our protagonist Tina lives on the streets, works with the Goonda gang, steals to survive, checks in on her sister every Friday (her sister is in a school) and plots revenge on her mother’s killer. Ever since her mother was shot dead in Mr Greyhill’s luxurious mansion, Tina has been seeking revenge. So after five years she’s ready to work with the Goondas to execute her plan and bring down Mr Greyhill. Except, when she enters the house to steal from him she is caught by his son (and her former friend) Michael. Michael is determined to prove that his father is innocent of her mother’s killing and so the two find themselves working on a murder investigation that uncovers dark secrets and takes them on a journey from a Kenyan city to a village in the Congo.
This is such a stunning debut novel. Anderson herself has worked with refugees of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many of whom shared their own harrowing stories with her. While this is a work of fiction, she has drawn from these experiences in order to create a fascinating, page-turning, heartbreaking story that is formed from real life. She educates the reader, brings attention to the lives of these refugees and to those still living in the villages of the Congo. Personally, I learned a lot from this novel.
I very much enjoyed Anderson’s writing and her use of Swahili and Shen to further the reader’s experience and once again bring the reader closer to the real life of the Kenyan streets.
As for the story itself, I was thoroughly caught up in Tina’s life. I found myself thinking of her even while doing other things – always a sign of a well-written character. Plus I couldn’t shake the thought that although fictional, this could be a real life young girl.
I have a lot of admiration for Anderson for the way she writes. She has created a fictional story around real life events, tackled difficult and upsetting issues while maintaining a flowing and fascinating narrative throughout.
In short… read it.