Thursday, March 7, 2013

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Genera: Fantasy/Paranormal

Subjects: Orphans, Asian mythology, murder, shape-shifters, cats

Age/Grade Level: Teens 13+

Length: 359 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life”

My Rating: êêêê1/2

My Review: I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I’m not a fan of high fantasy, but I love unique fantasy stories that don’t use historical sounding dialogue, or have a dystopian feel to them. This book had similarities to: Soulbound by Heather Brewer, Shadows and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Vampire Acamdemy by Richelle Mead, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Prophecy by Ellen Oh.  City of a Thousand Dolls is an Asian Fantasy about a boarding school (They call it city, it’s more of a boarding school on an estate) for orphaned girls to train in certain areas. They’re training to be wives, mistresses, healers, and musicians. It all seems very sexist, and feels dystopian-ish. And it is kind of dystopian, because the empire has been magically cut off from the world for 500 year. I kept thinking that maybe outside the barrier that was mentioned there might be the modern world of India or China, or where ever they are. I kept making predictions with huge jumps. My only correct predictions were about certain characters.

About the characters: they’re fun, but not really deep. Nisha is kick-butt. She reminds me of Rose from Vampire Academy in some ways, by since this is written in 3rd person, there wasn’t any inner dialogue. I also like Jerrit. He’s a cool cat, but he’s more than that. He’s Nisha’s best  friends. To make the characters even more diverse, Nisha has a friend, Sashi, who’s a blind healer. The romance between Devin and Nisha did not play a big part in the book. I honestly think I like the cat characters the best. There were a lot of characters, but thankfully they weren’t hard to keep track off.

I loved the world building and the mythology in this book. The sune, who are shape-shifters, played a roll. If you know what a Kitsune is from watching anime, then good. There was a mix of Indian, Chinese and I think, Japanese, culture used in the book. The caste system and the asars are Indian. The fans, flower, and sune are Chinese and Japanese. On a side note, did I mention how awesome it is that Nisha can talk to cats? How cool. I wish I could talk to my bird. Wonder what she has to say.

The plot was actually good, no matter what other reviews say. The added murder mystery made the story more suspenseful. So not only do when have coming of age/finding out where you belong story, but we get a mystery! The plot was intricately woven and wonderful. I didn’t want to put the book down. I haven’t read many fantasy books this good! I’m praying that there will be a companion novel to this book. Just because Nisha’s story ended doesn’t mean that the story of this empire is over. I still have questions!

Cover Art Review: I love the use of color and the cat statues. The girl with the swords. The title’s pretty cool, and the house symbols at the bottom are a nice touch.

~Haley G

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