[A quick note: I really didn’t know what to expect with this story. I was given an eARC from Penguin Teen. The premise was intriguing and so I was interested. I liked it enough as I was reading that I decided I needed a physical copy! That’s when you know I did really enjoy it.]
“𝐆𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤. 𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐛 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐠𝐬. 𝐍𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐛𝐢𝐧𝐝. 𝐒𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐫. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐲. 𝐈 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞 𝐄𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐝. 𝐖𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐚𝐟𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲.”—Lynne Bertrand
In a quarantined city of mile-high buildings, the streets are full of monsters, and people pass their entire lives indoors. No one has ever seen this city on a map. There are no animals within the wall shielding it. And an entire year passes between supply deliveries from the outside world. In the prime of their lives, teenagers are chosen from each guild building as runners, where they dwell on the rooftops, zipping from roof to roof among the clouds, playing pranks on each other, delivering supplies between guilds. They are the only form of connection in a city that may as well consist of a hundred ships on the water. When Errol Thebes, well known hero among runners of all guilds, steals a powerful weapon, uncommon in ever way, he learns exactly what kind of darkness lurks beneath the city.
Unique. Different. Fun. I wasn’t quite prepared for how much this story grew on me. In fact, I ADORED it! I was intrigued, curious, and fully entertained. We all have tales to tell, especially Odd Thebes, and what a tale he weaves! The world building is fascinating, centered around the runners who fly from roof to roof, carrying messages, supplies, and bridging the connection between each building. These dare-devils use zip lines to get around. They pull pranks, have contests, parties, and the weirdest customs! The world building was a little confusing at first because there are no info dumps. I believe this is why it got so many low ratings. But if you stick with it, the answers do come! And they are so satisfying! I loved the way it ended.
Within every person lives a beast. Some are rats, birds, and cats. Others are stags, panthers, and even dragons. Only the people living on the streets have any idea of this. Those living in the guild skyscrapers have no idea whatsoever. They are too disconnected from the streets. When a pair of knotting spikes is stolen, it is discovered that these spikes split a person open, ripping out their soul-animal, which crawling out of their chests. Fascinating, right?
“𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐲 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫...𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐮𝐩𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐬 𝐮𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐬. 𝐎𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐛𝐣𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬. 𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤, 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝.”
This story is told by the bard Odd Thebes, who also happens to be the jealous cousin to Errol Thebes, the city’s hero. His jealousy comes between them a few times. But I liked this. It showed severe flaws on his part. No one likes a perfect character. His storytelling is bunt and open. He is intelligent, speaks some twenty or more languages, is familiar with all the city slang. The perfect storyteller. I really liked his character and struggles.
There’s something dark happening in the city. What starts as a very tight scope, broadens. Everyone who lives in the city accepts things for the way they are. They have no idea of the darkness lurking beneath. They have no idea why they are quarantined for hundreds and even thousands of years. They know nothing of the world beyond. They live in mystery. But Errol Thebes rips everything apart when he finds himself on the streets below. He becomes the hero the city needs.
I cannot believe how much I liked this book! At fist, I thought perhaps it would be a two star. I read some reviews and got a bad feeling. But it had something that kept me interested. And by the 20% mark I was so intrigued! The story got better and better, told in snippets that wove together. I wanted to give this five stars but I think the little bit of confusion I experienced in the beginning doesn’t allow it. MY RATING: 4/5⭐️