Have you ever read a book so immersive, you can feel the smoke, smell the kettle corn, taste the licorice cherries? Well, that’s exactly what Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City did for me–paint a vivid landscape in a unique circus setting, with a haunting mystery at its core. Take a look at the vibrant cover and synopsis, and then we’ll dive into my gush-filled review of this book!
A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.
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.
***We received an advance readers’ copy from HarlequinTEEN in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects our opinions.***
If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be atmospheric. That’s the best part of this book–that you feel like you’re in the world, and with these characters, at every step.
This book is definitely weird. It is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. At first, it was a little jarring; but once I got a chapter or two in, I found myself really being able to see everything the author wanted me to. (Even if the main character didn’t have eyes.)
The mystery definitely gave the book its backbone. I especially can’t wait to see the illustrations of the characters in the final copy; I think it’ll give the book a magical touch. Though I did guess the killer kind of early on, it didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the novel.
I liked how this book touched on topics and themes like outsider-ness. What is it like to be considered a “freak”? What defines that? How can this be a good or bad thing, depending on one’s perspective? All of these questions played into the greater themes of family, love, and friendship.
I think my favourite of the siblings were Unu and Du (ahem, twins…). I appreciated the LGBTQIA+ rep, too, because there isn’t enough of that in fantasy, so to see it naturally incorporated into the book in a respectful way was a delight.
I don’t think this is always the most fast-paced novel, but I didn’t really have a problem with that. I thought the world-building for the Gomorrah Festival was on point, but it took some time to develop the rest of the world. Though, when we did get that information, I enjoyed what was given, and I never found it overly confusing (though I do wish there were a map!).
Overall, I rated this book 4.5/5*. I absolutely enjoyed this freak-show circus novel, and highly recommend you all pick this one up! It releases today, July 25th, 2017!
Until next time,