A Daughter of the Burning City review
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Published by Harlequin Teen
Hardcover edition, 384 pages
This book was featured in the July Tricksters box from Fairyloot and is the debut novel from Amanda Foody.
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, however the look of a book is often one of the first things I’m drawn to whilst browsing a shelf or a webpage. The cover of DOTBC did not disappoint! I like the smoky, burning effects on the title lettering and the purple hues which provide a palette backdrop for the city and descriptions within the novel, from the setting of Gomorrah to the clothing and foods that feature throughout. Additionally, the pearlescent paper of the dust-jacket adds that little bit of extra shimmer to the overall presentation of the book.
The story follows 16-year-old Sorina who is the adopted daughter of the festival proprietor. She has spent most of her life living in the travelling carnival city of Gomorrah which identifies itself with debauchery, magic, sin and burning desires. Sorina has a rare talent for creating illusions which come to life and with these characters she runs a Freak Show which horrifies and astounds visitors and guests. Although she has physically has no eyes, her magic enables her to see and it is through Sorina’s viewpoint that the story is told. Sorina’s world gets sent into turmoil when her (real-but-make-believe) illusions, which supposedly cannot die, start being murdered. As the city of Gomorrah itself begins to unravel when it visits new cities and finds itself unwelcome, Sorina must balance her investigation into tracking down the murderer of her family members with the lessons she needs to learn about proprietorship of the city and the political battles occurring in the world outside Gomorrah’s gates.
Foody’s world is truly like no other. From the outset of this book, you are told that Gomorrah is a dark place, it is ‘wicked, wicked to the core’ and the likening of the city to the biblical place of Gomorrah intrigued me and added to the visualisation of the city in my mind. But it is here that I reach my first ‘want’ that the book did not provide – I am a sucker for maps! Gomorrah travels around different cities in the Up-Mountains. Gomorrah itself has different locational parts to it: The Menagerie, Uphill, Downhill, Skull Gates, the Skull Market; there are so many parts to this world that I could not fully get invested into because I kept wanting to flip to a map which was not there. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt by maps in ACOTAR, TOG, Caraval and Roar; perhaps having one would have helped me to build the city of burning desires and the world it exists in inside my mind a little more…What I did like was the blueprint images of the illusions and the scrawling annotations from the killer etched over them. I struggled with the concept of the illusions being corporeal beings and the images really helped me to see them as living characters within the plot of the novel.
I would love to be able to say that I sussed out who the killer was fromthe very beginning, but I didn’t. I think I just went down the route of assuming that everybody was the killer! I started to guess what might be happening at Chapter 8, then as the story progressed and little hints and clues were divulged there became two suspects in my head of who the killer could be. The suspense really kept me going until the end and all was finally revealed.
As strange as this sounds, I’m not sure if it was the tense of the book that prevented me from becoming compulsively gripped or then again it may just have been Sorina’s voice. There seemed to be lots of elements to the story where I would have welcomed a little more depth. I kept wanting more knowledge about the Trade Wars andthe different cities that Gomorrah visited. The gimmick of the Lucky Coins was brilliant and I’d have loved more background into the former proprietors of the city whose faces adorned the coins.
Daughter of the Burning City is no carnival fairytale and would be perfect for those who like their fantasy a little more on the dark side. The unique characteristics of the illusions and the way they are interspersed with the characters was truly different to any other circus/carnival-esque tale I have read. The killer’s identity kept me clinging on until the end. The strangnesses and peculiarities through Foody’s narrative left me craving for more descriptions and details of the world she had made. Although the plot of the story is resolved, I hope that Foody revisits her worldin the near future, until then I’m off to find some liquorice cherries to munch on!
Have you read DOTBC? I’d love to know your thoughts and discuss your ideas!