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.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, attempted rape, abuse
“If you’re going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist.”
Wow, this was a good book.
Tina is a refugee from eastern Democratic of the Congo. When she was five, her and her mom escaped from the Congo to Kenya because of the raging war. Tina is a strong, independent protagonist who has had to learn to survive on the streets after her mom’s murder. She will do anything to avenge her mom’s death and that’s exactly what brings her to the gang – Goondas – in the first place. She is fiercely loyal to her little sister Kiki and she takes care of her to the best of her abilities. Tina is a multi-dimensional character and I felt genuinely attached to her.
The originality of the setting is one of the qualities that sets this book apart. The setting is rich, descriptive and made me fall completely in love with Kenya. The story is set in the made-up city of Sangui, Kenya, which isn’t a real city but was inspired by Mombasa and Nairobi.
City of Saints and Thieves is a murder mystery and revenge story while being a contemporary refugee story. The author, Natalie Anderson, spent a lot of time with refugees from the Congo and a big part of this novel is based on her first-hand experiences with those women. It was a eye-opener for me. Refugee stories are heart-breaking but important and I thought the novel portrayed it respectfully.
I also loved her two sidekicks: Michael and Boyboy. Boyboy provided the much needed comic relief in the story and I love funny characters so he was a favorite of mine.
All in all, I thought how the overall story unraveled was fantastic. It was engaging and kept me turning the pages throughout the novel, beginning to end. I highly recommend!
Have you read this book? Or are you planning to?