Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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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.
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody is one of those books I’ve seen floating around the bookish twitterverse that immediately caught my eye – I mean, with a cover like that how could it not? – but to be honest, I hadn’t thought too much about it since I haven’t been reading as much in the past few months due to university commitments and the fact that it isn’t out for a few more months but when I got the eARC, I started it and managed to read the whole thing in two sittings. It absolutely took me by surprise, and it was a little dark and mysterious enough that I was hooked from the very beginning.
The characters were all a little different, which made the story even more captivating. We have Sorina, the girl with no eyes – she literally just doesn’t have eyes – and as an illusion-worker, she wields the ability to create illusions/people that are almost human since others can see, feel and touch them, and they have their own personalities, but yeah, they’re illusions. I don’t want to go too into the illusions because reading about Sorina’s ‘family’ was super interesting, and finding out about them bit by bit was one of my favourite aspects of this story so I’d rather not take away the opportunity for any of you to experience it the same way.
The story is built around mystery. As far as Sorina’s concerned, her illusions are just that – illusions. So, technically, they can’t die. Except, she finds one of them brutally murdered. How is that possible? Well, most of the story is spent trying to figure this out and as Sorina attempts to find the culprit, we are taken on an adventure all over the Festival. The world-building in this story is absolutely breathtaking as is the writing itself.
In terms of the other characters besides Sorina and her illusions, we are greeted by an entire festival of characters. Some who wield magic, some who don’t, some who are good and some who are not-so-good. Luca’s ability was unbelievably cool! Again, I wont spoil it but seriously. Also, Luca’s character in general was just super lovable and really interesting to read about. The romance though more or less obvious from the beginning, kind of took a surprise turn. As I read on, I guessed that Luca was demisexual because of certain signs nearer the last half of the book (and Amanda Foody did kindly confirm for me that he is on the ace spectrum, he falls somewhere into asexual/demiromantic and demisexual). I think this is the first fantasy book I’ve read where there was a demisexual character, and I think it was pretty great to see.
Dark and full of magic, Daughter of the Burning City was a gripping story full of mystery and wonder. It made me want to visit Gomorrah and for most of the story, the beautiful descriptions made me feel like I was actually there. Sorina was such an interesting, real and unique main character and I loved reading from her perspective. I especially loved the ending. I was speaking to a friend about the story and we were talking about how for most of the story, Sorina sees herself as a ‘freak’ (as do almost all the other characters, hence the Freak Show), but by the end she grows to accept herself. She doesn’t change, she just learns that she’s awesome regardless. And I think that was a pretty cool message.
Favourite quote: N/A (will add when I get a finished copy).
Note: According to Wordery, this will also be published in the UK later this year! Whoop!