Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
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.
My New Love: Daughter of the Burning City.
My wee dragonmites, I am so in love with this book that my brain is in about fifty different places and I am having a difficult time figuring out where to begin. If you follow me on Goodreads and have seen my review there, then you know I am an absolutely mess about it. It was so good. Right up my alley. If you like surprises, illusions, magic, awkward teen relationships, espionage, circuses, or bug collections please consider this book.
There are so many wonderful things I want to say about the characters here. Sorina, for starters? She was wonderful. Sorina felt real in a way characters usually don’t. She was not too sweet, too smart… she was dynamic and young but brave by compulsion and kind. Sorina is the sort of person who wants to be guarded but is too loving and genuine. She fiercely protects those she loves and is wise enough to see the merit of multiple arguments without flitting only to her heart or a stubborn opinion. I really liked her, and I wish more protagonists were written this way.
Beyond Sorina – I felt the depth of every character Foody wrote. Even the ones we only met once, for a few lines. Nobody felt like an “extra” or a “stand in”. How many books can you say that about? In particular, I really liked Nicoleta and Luca… and after finishing it… I respect Crown.
I want more of this world. It’s a dark, desolate land where magic is only permitted within the ever burning walls of Gomorrah. The intricacy put into the rules of magic (“jynx-work”) as well as the politics of the world and the religious beliefs of the people outside the walls is astounding. Not to mention the dynamics of it all… moving a whole city like packing up a carnival, racial tensions, royalties and Alliances and just everything. It’s so well thought out and vivid that it is actually overwhelming at first.
I was utterly captivated by this story. I am very much the type of person who has the entire plot decided by the time I am 25% of the way through a book. Usually, I’m fairly right. With this book…. Amanda Foody knows my type, and there were so many wrong turns, pitfalls, and unexpected twists that by the time I was at about 85%, I was lost. IN A GOOD WAY. It’s a lot more fun to read a book that makes you begin to doubt your predictions and pleasantly surprises you than one you already can guess the ending.
I ALSO REALLY LIKED THE LOVE STORY.
I’m going to let that sink in a moment because I really don’t say that often.
Writing / Narration
I’m going to start with one minor criticism. The reader gets thrown in the story really fast. It starts with Sorina’s freak show, where you IMMEDIATELY meet her entire family and that’s about seven characters with a lot of complicated details and it took me a few chapters to connect people’s names with their oddities and personalities. ONCE I GOT MY BEARINGS it was a wonderful adventure. It moved at a good, quick pace and the writing was vivid and rich. Sometimes, I thought she was writing a character particularly flat or vague (per poor writing) only to figure out later it was all very intentional AND I WAS WOWED. She is a Master of Subtlety and it’s fabulous. I am so, so pumped to read more for her and honestly, this was a freaking awesome debut.
Love. I want to read more of this. I want to buy more of her books. If I could live in this world a little longer, and explore the various caravans, I would love it. To have my future read by a fortune-worker and collect a trinket from a charm-worker sounds amazing. I was to see the twin obelisks and do just about everything except eat the licorice cherries (yuck). I want to meet Sorina and give her a hug.
Of you’re on the fence, I genuinely recommend this book, and plead for anyone who picks it up to have patience with the first chapter or two – if you get through that, you will be swept up, I promise.
I ALSO NEED A MOMENT TO SQUEE BECAUSE I HAD SO MANY QUESTIONS AT THE END OF THIS BOOK AND AMANDA FOODY DESCENDED FROM HER WRITER KINGDOM TO ANSWER ONE!
I like to think Sorina will spread her wings and make new relationships with those in the Festival, instead. 🙂
— Amanda Foody (@AmandaFoody) August 4, 2017
(There’s a little more to the conversation than this, including a part where she says you are free to disagree. So down to earth, love it.)
“I peek from behind the tattered velvet curtains at the chattering audience, their mouths full of candied pineapple and kettle corn.”
There’s only one alternate cover for this book. When that happens, I usually don’t post this section, but I really like the typography work on the paperback. A lot of YA these days are using typography on their covers and I am a huge fan of that – definitely my jam! Also, I’m always a fan of anything purple.
Also can I just mention how if you don’t look at the bottom quarter of the book, it kind of seems like the purple beams are coming from the gold top hat? Great effect. I also love how this looks like a circus poster.
“How romantic. Your special someone sounds like some kind of demon.”
“When the fairy tales spoke of butterflies, I didn’t anticipate it feeling more like hornets.”
“I want to sleep until reality feels more like a dream. I want to never wake up.”
“Because we do friend things, clearly. Like interrogate people and… flee from tumultuous cities.”
I’m so excited to use this section for the first time ever! <3 I tried to take some pretty pictures AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WITH ARCS this is the illustration of Blister as well. Click/slide to see the images better/bigger.
Books I’d Recommend
This writing is so unique, there aren’t a lot of stories that I have read that are like it! Instead, I’m going to recommend stories with a similar setting (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury), a similarly awesome and self-sufficient character (Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas), and similarly styled worlds (Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo).