Title: Daughter of the Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
This novel has been pared with various circus-themed books, such as Caraval or The Night Circus, however, aside from the circus setting, this book differs from those previously mentioned being much more of a creepy mistory than a swooning love story.
This story follows (obviously) the Daughter of the Burning City, Sorina, whom is an illusion worker. In this the Carnaval called Gomorrah, Sorina runs the “freak show” but the freaks are illusions – creatures of her imagination whom she has invented. All have bizarre abilities and deformations yet, as they are illusions, they shouldn’t be able to die. However, this is exactly what begins to happen. Thus, Sorina embarks on the mission to understand how this is possible, who is responsible, and why.
I really enjoyed this novel and was initially going to give it a higher rating, but many reasons for my reduction were to do with aspects of the ending-twist. Now, I loved the twist. I thought it was well planned-out and kept me guessing, but I didn’t care for aspects of it. It set out some interesting questions (such as those of free will on behalf of the illusions, e.g.) which it did not address. There were various moments were it was eluded to that certain illusions were beginning to ask existential questions yet all of these moments were brushed over. Moreover, all the loose ties of the twist wrapped up just too perfectly, with the right people dying/being killed, people accepting or not contemplating further these aforementioned issues, and a romance which – if thought about – doesn’t seem correct. Spoilers, Sorina ends up falling in love with one of her illusions, this love being reciprocated in the end, but… this illusion (whom I won’t name in case you haven’t read the book) was created subconsciously by Sorina to fall for her and for her to fall for it, so that leaves the question of this romance being correct or normal even? No one answers of mentions this.
Bringing it back to a more positive side, the premise of the book was extremely original. The author created a unique magical world with interesting characters, being able to give each illusion its own identity. I also very much enjoyed the family unity that was created, brining emphasis to the idea that family is not only a group of individuals united by blood but also those whom care deeply for and look after each other. The story itself was very fun to read and I enjoyed the experience of reading it, definitely kept me guessing until the end.
Overall, I enjoyed reading it and I would definitely recommend it. If you’ve read this book let me know in the comments below what you thought of it.