Title: Daughter of the Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Release Date: September 7th 2017
A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a travelling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Night after night Sorina and her family perform their freak show, but night after night what their audience don’t realise is that Sorina is the only one they see perform who fits the label ‘freak’. Her family are illusion, the traits and appearances that make them freaks were imagined by Sorina when she created them. Sorina has spent her whole life travelling with the Gomorrah Festival, but something is different at their latest stop, and an evening that starts with a raid ends with Sorina finding the body of one of her illusions.
Sorina never thought her illusions could die, and Gill’s death means that the rest of her family could potentially be in danger as well. While Villiam, the proprietor of Gomorrah and Sorina’s adoptive father, thinks Gill’s death was nothing more than a lone attacker protesting the Festival Sorina thinks differently, but her father promises to look into the attack and Sorina agrees to let things lie. Until another of her illusions is killed and Sorina can no longer stand aside, waiting for the next member of her family to die.
While her father looks outside the Festival, thinking the murders the work of an Up-Mountainer, Sorina teams up with Luca, a gossip-worker who cannot die, to look inside the Festival for the murderer. As Sorina works with her father, learning all about the political turmoil the Festival seems to be trapped in the middle of, and works with Luca, learning about the darker delights the Gomorrah Festival offers its visitors, she’s no longer sure what she believes in. All she knows is it’s only a matter of time before she finds herself standing over the body of another of her loved ones.
Daughter of the Burning City was a very highly anticipated release of mine, all I had to read in the blurb was that this book was set in ‘a travelling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires’ and I knew I just had to read this book. The plot grabbed me from the start, the book a mixture of fantasy and murder mystery as it combines the magic and setting of the Gomorrah Festival with the mystery behind who is targeting Sorina’s illusions. There was always something new to discover that added another clue to the inner workings of the Festival or who was behind the murders.
Sorina has been living inside the Festival ever since she was a child, saved from slavery by Villiam and given a place in Gomorrah as his heir. Despite this she knows very little of what Gomorrah Festival really is. She plays with danger and little acts of rebellion but she remains safe in her small part of Gomorrah. Until she loses one of her illusions. For Sorina the illusions aren’t her creations but her family – her uncle, her sister, her best friend, her baby brother – and she clearly willing to do anything for the people she loves.
As she investigates deaths of her family Sorina isn’t sure of her own mind, both Villiam and Luca have strong reasons believing who is behind the deaths and Sorina goes back and forth on who she thinks is right. Sorina doesn’t know much about her home, or even about her talents as a jynx-worker, but she is eager to learn.
Luca was a really interesting character to discover more about, and unfortunately I can’t say much about him for fear of spoiling this book for people. Luca has only been travelling with Gomorrah for a year but he makes it his business to know everything about the people he interacts with. He knows more about the Festival than Sorina does and as such this makes him the perfect person for her to investigate with.
Both Sorina and Luca are diverse characters, Sorina identifying as bisexual and Luca as demisexual, making this book a very rare find as it features two LGBT characters who aren’t simply gay or lesbian. That dynamic made the relationship between Luca and Sorina interesting because it developed differently, Luca’s feelings not becoming apparent until he got to know Sorina’s secrets.
The development of each of Sorina’s illusions was interesting well developed too. They were all created with a different purpose in mind, to fill in a part of Sorina’s family that was missing, and they all have personalities that reflect those needs. However they are also their own individual people, and the inner question that was brought up, whether they were really their own people or simply an extension of Sorina, made for some interesting reading.
Gomorrah Festival is a city in its own right, when you hear ‘travelling carnival’ you think of something smaller than what the Festival really is. It’s a moving city, a whole world packed into bright tents, and as Sorina works with her father to find the killer she learns more about what it means to be proprietor of Gomorrah. The world building in this book was very comprehensive, to pull of everything Amanda Foody did in this one book it needed to be, and the reason I rated this book four stars instead of five was because at times the world building was too heavy. We didn’t just need to learn about the inner workings of Gomorrah but the politics and history of the world outside the Festival as well, it was well written and interesting to read but there were just too many times I felt lost amongst all the information Sorina was being given about her home.
I love books set in circuses or carnivals, and the setting for this book was the main reason Daughter of the Burning City caught my eye. This was a darker story than the other circus-set books I’ve read; filled with assassins instead of illusionists, and more political than magical, but it was still a thrilling read from start to finish and that more than anything is what I look for in books.
What did you think of Daughter of the Burning City? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.