Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody – REVIEW
Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smouldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the travelling 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.
“But what if revenge is the path to healing? To closure? I’m not just going to sit back and go about life normally when a piece of it was ripped away.”
I decided to read this book after being sent an early copy from YALC. I loved the cover and, as soon as I heard it was about a circus, I was desperate to read it. I love circus-themed books for their escapism and adventure. They encourage people to be whatever they want, and they always evoke a sense of wonder. I would have loved to have learnt more about the setting of Gomorrah and a map of the festival would have been a beautiful addition to the book. It became obvious fairly quickly that Gomorrah was just a backdrop to the whodunnit mystery. For a beautifully-written book about the circus, I would highly recommend The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
“The nature of the Downhill is our arsenal, Sorina. Sin is our arsenal. It is through the very depravity of Gomorrah that we fight wars of righteousness.”
The premise of the book is unique and definitely interesting. Sorina is a sixteen-year-old illusion worker whose illusions somehow begin to be murdered. It’s a much darker mystery than I expected but the whodunnit element works well and is obviously carefully plotted. Sorina herself is an independent character and her budding relationship with Luca was deftly handled. The sexual diversity was refreshing to see – Sorina is bisexual, another character is a lesbian, and Luca appears to be a demisexual. Luca himself is a flawed individual, slightly arrogant but he grows on you over time. It was nice to see a romantic relationship that wasn’t insta-love and it definitely felt more realistic.
“The Festival comes alive in a rush of opium smoke, the blinking lights of dancers, the smell of pastries that stick to your fingers, the thundering of the fireworks.”
The storyline regarding the religious fanaticsm of the followers of Ovren was scarily recognisable, as were their beliefs about the supposed impurity of disabled people. It’s terrifying to see these beliefs gain traction and threaten society. I know I’m not the only one to mention this but one small niggle I had with the book was not understanding how Sorina was able to see. It’s never explained how she has the ability to see without eyes, and I would have appreciated having my curiosity satisfied at some point in the book! Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this dark mystery, although it’s definitely more of a whodunnit than a circus-themed book.
This is a deliciously dark young adult fantasy mystery that I would definitely recommend.
|About the Author
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.