ARC Review: CITY OF THE UNCOMMON THIEF by Lynne Bertrand

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in yellow on grey
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating:
Series: standalone


Book cover for CITY OF THE UNCOMMON THIEF: title in yellow on greyscale images of animals with bones

“Guilders work. Foundlings scrub the bogs. Needles bind. Swords tear. And men leave. There is nothing uncommon in this city. I hope Errol Thebes is dead. We both know he is safer that way.”

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 labours.

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.

And Errol Thebes? He’s not dead and he’s certainly not safe

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This book was so confusing. I simply could not follow what was going on in this book. The synopsis above is pretty unclear, and that’s all I had to go into the book with – and that pretty much set the tone for the book.

One of the issues was the fact that the focus was on Errol, but he was not the narrator. Instead the narrator was a character called Odd, who was a cousin, I think? Not sure what Odd looked like, whether they were a boy or girl – or anything. Odd was just… there, narrating the story of his cousin, somehow getting all this info despite not being there.

With so little info on Odd, they were not an interesting character. What was their driving goal? Why were they invested in all this? What were they *doing* for most of it? It was so hard to be interested in a character I knew little about and only seemed there to narrate someone else’s story.

Errol was also very confusing. I thought he vanished in the first few chapters, but then he just seemed to be there in and out with little explanation for the first 20%, and no one reacted other than “where have you been?” Eventually he was tossed off, and then there was a very confusing back and forth in third person and first person of Odd telling tales.

It didn’t get any easier to follow after that, as I didn’t understand why Errol was gone, what Odd’s stake in it all was, to the point that I ended up skim reading the book in case it made more sense once it was all resolved. It didn’t.

The only redeeming thing about this book, for me, was the world. The lines strung between the mile-high towers, and how that got them between was interesting. The food supply chain was also intriguing, however I couldn’t work out the power structure in the city, which didn’t make the plot any easier to follow.

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