Reviews

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

daughter of the burning city

# of Pages: 377

Time it took me to read: 7 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 54 pgs

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

There is no place in the world like Gomorrah. And that is because Gomorrah travels all over the world–a traveling festival that is more like a traveling city because of its sheer size. Gomorrah is a place of magic, where you can find fantastic beasts and fortune workers who will read your palm to tell your future. It is a dark, licentious¬†place that isn’t for the faint of heart. And it’s the home of sixteen-year-old Sorina, the adopted daughter of Gomorrah’s proprietor. And Sorina has a power like no-one else she’s ever met: she’s an illusion worker, able to create illusions so vivid you can see, smell, and in some cases, even touch them. Because not only can Sorina make you believe that you are soaring on the back of a large eagle while the sun sets over the ocean, she has also created a family full of illusions that have lives of their own.

But everything changes one night when Sorina finds a member of her family, one of her illusions, dead on the floor. Sorina must venture outside of the safety of her life on Gomorrah’s Uphill to discover who is behind the murder, finding new allies and venturing deep into the long history of Gomorrah to discover who she truly is, before it’s too late.

 

Wow, I really couldn’t have picked a better book to start the new year. It took me all week to read, since I’ve been a little bit lazy with my reading lately, but once the book had me in its grip, it wouldn’t let me go and I couldn’t put it down.

The world that Amanda Foody has created–both Gomorrah specifically and the wonderfully rich, captivating universe that it exists in, is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Foody blends many different parts of real-world cultures into something that is both unique and extraordinary. Gomorrah has people of all shapes, sizes, genders and sexualities, which is an aspect I’m really loving. It’s clear pretty early on that Sorina is bi-sexual, and though her romantic interest is male, there is a member of her family that is a lesbian, though none of that is the point at all, which is wonderful. These characters, though self-proclaimed freaks, are just people, and I think that having a cast of characters with a wide range of sexualities without having the story be about their wide range of sexualities is the kind of representation YA really needs.

Anyway, I’d like to talk more about Sorina, because as much as I loved the vivid, vivacious world that Foody created, a big part of what really drew me in was Sorina as a character. She’s a “jinx-worker” with a very unique sort of magic: she has the ability to create illusions that people can see, touch, and can even have lives of their own. She can’t go and create people willy-nilly, but once she does make a new member of her family, they are as much of a person as anybody else. They’re all part of Sorina’s act, her “Freak Show”, because all of the people she creates are “freakish” in some way. Her sister Venera is an acrobat so flexible she can literally tie herself in knots, and her uncle Gill is a man who has to live underwater, because he has gills that he uses to breathe. But Sorina often thinks that the biggest freak in her show is herself, because not only is she the illusion worker behind her whole act, but she looks the part of a freak herself–with a smooth, eyeless face that she often covers with a mask, though through her magic, she can see just as well as everyone else. And honestly, I think she’s such a badass. It’s not often that you find a main character in YA that is not conventionally attractive, and being totally eyeless is pretty big on the freaky factor, but it doesn’t slow Sorina down or make her any less relatable as a character, and I’m here for that.

Sorina also continues in a trend that I like that I’m seeing more of in YA: she’s not this seemingly perfect, mature leader who always seems to have all the answers: she’s nieve, she’s flawed, and though she has this amazing magical skill, she doesn’t always know how it works, and her magic isn’t infallible.

This book has really full cast of super well-rounded, interesting and diverse characters, like I mentioned briefly in the beginning. Sorina’s family of illusions, as well as her adopted father, foster mother, and romantic interest Luca, are all wildly intense and likeable, and really add a lot to the mystery of Gomorrah’s murderer.

Speaking of which, the plot was definitely another win on the part of the author. I mean, not only did she create a story full of such great characters in a world that is remarkably engaging, but having this book be a murder mystery where the victims are illusions who technically shouldn’t be able to die in the first place? Genius. The predictability level on this book was pretty low. While I had a few hunches, I have to say that by the end I was very surprised indeed, and thought that the climax was really well built up in the rest of the story (meaning the author left lots of breadcrumbs throughout the story, that once you figure out the resolution you go “oooohhh, yeah, that makes sense now”, like in any good murder mystery).

I will say, the one critic that I have of this story is that, since it’s a stand-alone, I thought it wrapped up a bit too nicely. While there is no doubt that the characters all suffered (there weren’t really any punches pulled in that department), there were a lot of more minor plot points that were built up that were almost “shoved under the rug”, if you will. I still have some questions, that will of course never be answered because it’s a stand-alone, but it was a satisfying ending, even if it did leave me with some lingering thoughts. But I suppose good books often do that–leave little pieces of themselves floating in your brain, long after you’ve read the last word.

But I’d really, 100%, recommend this book to anyone who is a lover of creative world-building, unique magic, and dark fantasy. It was, I hope, just the first of many amazing books in 2018.

If you liked Daughter of the Burning City, try: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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