Friday, 8 September 2017

Book Review // Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

It's always a risk when one picks up a book on a whim. It's impossible to know what to expect when you've never heard of a book, and there's always the potential of it going disastrously wrong. But Daughter of the Burning City ended up being a pleasant and refreshing surprise that stands out from the YA fantasy crowd.

The story is set in the travelling circus-city of Gomorrah, with a girl who can create powerful illusions as it's protagonist. Sorina lives and performs with the family of illusions she created for herself, all of whom have special abilities. As illusions, they should not be able to die, but when one of them is murdered, Sorina teams up with a boy who cannot be killed in order to track down the culprit and protect the rest of her family.

The murder mystery is by far the most exciting aspect of the novel. The story had me guessing and double guessing at every turn as to who the person targeting the illusions was. What made this even more exciting was that the physical copy of the book has illustrated pages of the characters scattered throughout, with words scrawled like a killer's hitlist. I haven't seen something like this done before, but it really kept up the intensity of the story.

I did struggle for a while in remembering all of Sorina's family members. There are a lot of them, and because the language did more telling than showing I found it hard to form a connection with any of the characters. The flat language was also part of the reason I read it a bit slower than I read typically. I felt like I was being told that Sorina saw Villiam as a father and saw Venera as a sister, but I didn't completely buy that connection, nor did I feel the threat of the potential war or anything beyond the main storyline.

I liked how sexuality is never a thing that is questioned in Sorina's world, and that nobody takes issue with the fact that she is bisexual or that Nicoleta is attracted to women. But I did feel weird that everyone treated Luca with discomfort becuase he was asexual, calling him 'strange' and acting as if he were abnormal because of it. With a story focused on the characters of Gomorrah having specific peculiarities, it didn't feel right that that was what made Luca unusual.

Daughter of the Burning City was definitely a mixed bag for me, but I did love how the focus and structure felt different from other books of the genre. I would highly recommend it if you're looking for a fantasy that's easy to read and just a little different.


YA Fantasy


Bisexual protagonist and asexual main character

 Stabbing, death, murder, drowning, blood, gore, decapitation

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