Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.
This book was an entirely different experience at different stages of it. It was divided in two: the first half of the book, and the second half. I was very excited about DotBC because I LOVE Circus settings, and I’d heard good things about this story. I was browsing through Barnes and Nobles and I spotted this gorgeous cover, so I had to get it. At that point, the plot was somewhat unknown to me. I only had a fuzzy idea of what it was about. I’d seen it before in Fairyloot’s July unboxing, and since it had JUST come out, I decided to buy it.
The premise immediately interested me.
Daughter of the Burning City is about Sorina, a girl who lives inside the Gomorrah Festival, the daughter of the circus’s proprietor, and someone with very particular, magic skills. She can create illusions that other people can see, touch, and feel. She has coexisted with her creations during her entire life, and now they’ve become her closest family.
But they are not real, despite her wishes and the flawless way in which they are perceived. She has to remind herself that they are still just illusions- until one of them is killed. How is something that is not even real murdered? The story, then, follows this mystery and Sorina as she tries to find out who is killing her family and why.
It sounded like a magnificent, thrilling ride. Here is what I liked and disliked about the plot:
◦ The killings began at the very start of the book, specifically on page 36 of my edition. Since I didn’t know anything about the illusions yet, I didn’t have an emotional attachment to them, and I wasn’t as devastated as Sorina when they were murdered or discovered dead.
The environment, the main character who narrated in the first person, and everybody around her was gloomy and grieving, but I wasn’t. So that really took me OUT of the story instead of making me sympathize because I didn’t actually feel sad. It was just something that happened, and rather than a dramatic event that manipulated my feelings, it was much more prominent that it was just a plot device. The murders ended up being not scandalous for me at all.
◦ It was very slow at the start! It took me 180 pages to finally get engaged with what was happening. But up to that point, the plot for me had been monotonous because there was no shock and because I knew NOTHING about the characters yet.
180 pages is A LOT for a book to get going, especially a murder mystery! I felt a lack of thrill, and I almost DNFed several times. Shout out to Cait from Paperfury for telling me about how good she’d thought the ending had been. I otherwise would probably have abandoned the book.
◦ Basically, I liked most things about the SECOND HALF of the book, as regards to plot. Twists and turns were finally appearing after what felt like an eternity of non-existent suspense, and I enjoyed how everything wrapped up at the very end.
◦ The ending and the revelations tied together SO many things that had been clued and spread throughout the book, and it was really amazing to read. Like I said, the plot in the second half became fun to read at last. Many more things happened, like balls and spying operations.
◦ I liked some aspects of the characters, and also hated others. Sorina was a VERY interesting and complex person, and I felt like I got to know her the most. The way she acted was true to her age, which rarely happens, and I loved her weird personality and quirks. She COLLECTED BUGS, which freaked me out but amazed me!
Sorina had no eyes, but she could perfectly see anyway, which had a strange but cool explanation revealed later on. She was very conscious about her physical appearance and outer beauty, and that was good to see because the two are valid and REAL concerns and insecurities. Her lack of eyes didn’t affect her ability to see.
◦ I didn't enjoy the ILLUSIONS in the first half. They were just completely unknown to me, and I really felt like I knew NOTHING about them. The secondary characters were very underdeveloped.
I can name you so many people that didn’t appear at all and with whom we didn’t interact until the last quarter of the book. Unu and Du, Hawk, and Crown are almost strangers to me.
◦ I really didn’t like NICOLETA either. She annoyed me so much! I think the source was her bossy attitude and moodiness.
◦ My favorite secondary characters were Luca and Venera. Even though we didn’t see much of the latter one throughout the story, by the end she had still grown on me. I loved all of the Freaks, their magical appearances, and their unique characteristics, but I was disappointed because they never came into play.
I LOVED the setting of Gomorrah. It was whimsical, attractive, luring, and mysterious in the dark way that any Festival in a circus book should be. But EVERYTHING surrounding Gomorrah was blurry and covered in FOG.
In the background of this world, a war was starting to develop, and that was not a minor element in the overall storyline, it played a huge part in the mystery.
However, the cities outside of the festival, the places Gomorrah had conflicts with, the political issues that drove their purposes, their background, basic information was completely disregarded!
This was also why I was surprised by the way the book ended, knowing that there would not be a sequel; in my opinion, there were MANY political things left open and unsolved.
The single thing that I loved CONSISTENTLY all throughout the novel was the GORGEOUS writing style. I am very interested in Amanda Foody’s next work because I think she has so much potential and a great ability. I was very fond of the dialogues, the descriptions, and everything about the way this was written.
Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5 stars
World Building: ⭐️⭐️ 2.5/5 stars
Writing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 stars
Characters: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5 stars
Pace: ⭐️⭐️ 2.5/5 stars
Enjoyment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5 stars
Overall Rating: 3.17 stars
I was expecting this book to be better, but thankfully the ending made up for some things. I am eagerly awaiting to read Ace of Shades because I think the plot for this coming book will be much better developed. I do love Amanda's writing, so it would be great to read more from her. Ace of Shades is actually one of my most anticipated 2018 releases!
I recently read that book's publication journey, and it was really interesting. Amanda talked about how important this book is for her, and I am excited to experience it as well.
Have you read Daughter of the Burning City? What did you rate it and what did you think of the pacing?
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