cover image City of the Uncommon Thief

City of the Uncommon Thief

Lynne Bertrand. Dutton, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-55532-2

Odd Thebes travels the aerial lines that connect the thousand towers of his ancient, long-quarantined city, running errands for each sequestered structure’s inhabitants, who produce their respective guild’s crafts. A hyperpolyglot and skilled storyteller, he works with the other teenage runners, who spend a few years traversing the roofs and lines before permanently descending into one of the mile-high guild towers. He feels like a shadow to his charismatic cousin Errol, future guildmaster and a hero figure in Odd’s bardic stories. Then the theft of a pair of iron needles with miraculous powers pulls Errol from the sky and into the streets, where terrible truths about his city, his family, and his own identity await. In her YA debut, Bertrand (Granite Baby) creates a grim and wondrously weird city, unmoored in time and space, yet grounded in its physics-defying geography and in its people, for whom Homer and Ovid, Beowulf and Arthur are both cultural touchstones and personally relevant figures. The language, flecked with various dialects and idiosyncratic slang, requires acclimatization, but its memorable textures reward readers who persevere. While occasionally confusing, the labyrinthine plot is well paced and supported with strong internal logic, making for a strange, fascinating adventure in a singular world. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Nov.)