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.
I finished Daughter of the Burning City moments ago and absolutely loved it! As with most of my reads, I went in completely blind. (I didn’t even know that it was set in a carnival or that the city is literally burning.) To me, this only serves to heighten the mystery and keep the allure of the story intact. I loved every second of it! Not a single piece of this book was cliche, predictable, or boring. Tropes are avoided and the balance between YA and Adult fantasy is perfectly achieved.
From the very first page, I was completely enthralled with the story and the world that Amanda Foody brings so vividly to life. The traveling city of Gomorrah is so real it is almost as if you are a participant blending in with the crowds of performers and visitors. The tents, caravans, atmosphere, and characters were masterfully portrayed in a way that sweeps you off your feet and brings you right into the heart of Gomorrah. No detail is left incomplete in this often dark, somewhat magical, certainly extraordinary world.
The characters are absolutely fantastic. The main character of the story, Sorina, is a blind teenage girl with the only illusion-worker powers seen in hundreds of years. Although this makes her quite rare, Sorina is not your average YA protagonist. She is incredibly real and, by association, incredibly flawed and I found her quite refreshing. Sorina is easily one of my favorite main characters in a YA book. The supporting characters are no less unique, real, and flawed in their own ways. These are characters that will stick with you long after the book is finished.
The heart of the story is a murder mystery. Again, this is expertly written and left me guessing right until the very end. Every time I thought I knew what was happening, I was proven wrong. Then my originally suspicions were renewed, only to be proven completely wrong again! I love when an author keeps you on your toes and strays so far from the predictable that only at the last moment is there an inkling of the truth.
Foody does not pull any punches in this raw and often emotional story of family, love, and loss. As the characters experience a wide range of emotions, so too does the reader. Even just a few short chapters in, the characters experience joy, love, worry, grief, everything beyond and everything in between. It is not often that we see such a range of truth in YA novels. Life is messy and complicated, and DotBC shows that in all its glory.
There is so much more to say about this book and I’m not sure I even conveyed the points I was trying to make here, but I don’t want to say much more. This was yet another fantastic debut novel and I will definitely be following Amanda Foody to see what she writes next. I highly recommend that everyone read this book. It is wonderful and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down!