Monday, 18 September 2017

Review: Daughter Of The Burning City

Daughter of the Burning City
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

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.

So, this book has been on my radar since December-ish, when I was putting together my blog post for 2017 reads! I spotted this on GoodReads and as soon as I read the synopsis I had to add it to my list because it sounded so different and so unusual! I've been waiting for this to finally be released ever since, like....the book didn't even have a cover when I first spotted it so I got all excited for the cover and then there was finally a release date and then it was officially being published over here and THEN IT WAS FINALLY OUT! I'm impatient okay. 

Daughter of the Burning City is a richly dark and vivid read. The writing is evocative. The setting itself is decadent, atmospheric, vivid and dark. I can't think of any other words to better to describe the entire book to be honest. The setting pulled me in, I could practically smell Gomorrah. I could see it so clearly in my minds eye. I completely loved it, I haven't read all that many books set in a Circus, let alone a circus that's pretty much a travelling city! 

Sorina is such an interesting character. Her power is both awesome and intriguing...and a little bit scary. Like I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it. Sorina has no eyes, and so obviously because people are a-holes, she doesn't have the best time. She's not treated that well by the majority of people. I really felt for her, she seemed so alone despite having her illusions, but she handles herself incredibly well when it comes to facing off against nasty people. She's determined and stubborn and all she wants is to protect her family. I seriously empathised with her and she was so realistic to me she practically walked out of the pages and in to my living room. I also loved the fact that over the course of the book she comes to accept herself, when you see her at the end of the book...well it made me smile and get a little bit choked up. Not going to lie. 

Luca was hilarious and mysterious in equal measure. We slowly clear the mists of mystery around him, but you end up coming up with all these theories about him! His power is freaking awesome, and I kinda want it! He's such a lively character, you can't help but love him, as much as you may or may not be suspicious of him in the beginning. He definitely made me smile though, and I loved his budding friendship with Sorina. I shipped them so hard I'm not going to lie, they where quite the dynamic duo as they investigated, and Luca didn't treat her differently, he treated her like a regular person unlike pretty much everyone else in the circus. I saw the romance coming, but there where was a really nice twist to it at the end that kind of broke my heart but it was all good! 

You know, I think the thing I appreciated most about Luca was that he was basically a gossiping old biddy who just can't die no matter how many times you try to kill him. He was just so loveable....and indestructible. One might even call him...sturdy. *cackles* 

Sorina's family, I need to talk about briefly. They where such a dynamic and interesting bunch with well developed personalities and each one vividly came to life and was so distinct as you where reading. They where such a great group of characters and differing personalities, but they all fit so well together and I loved the interactions between them all. Although I think Verena might just be my favourite! They where all illusions, as you may have guessed, but I won't say much else because I loved how we got to know them throughout the book. The information was dropped throughout and you kept learning something new and it was brilliantly done. 

As for Villiam, Sorina's father, I wasn't sure how to feel about him. I wanted to like him, I really did. He was so good to Sorina and so kind to her and kinda the perfect father. He was there for her, he helped her and so on. Which made me suspicious. I don't know if I'm just jaded or what, if I am blame Game of Thrones, but he just made me suspicious because he was too kind. Too perfect. I sensed something off about him, or that there was more than met the eye. So I had a bit of a bumpy ride with Villiam. 

So, not being of the LGBTQ community, I'm not going to say too much because I don't think I can accurately comment/critique on that aspect. BUT. There was a nice amount of LGBTQ representation in the book. Sorina was bisexual I think, from comments she made at the beginning of the book. Luca's asexual I *think*, that's my interpretation of him from what I read...but again, I really don't know much about it, or about the ace spectrum and the intricacies of it so if I'm incorrect, apologies! But I really enjoyed the amount of rep in the book, and that's about all I feel like I'm qualified to say on the matter. It was just such a nice change to see such a range of diverse characters throughout the book, it made it more realistic and more interesting than the usual whitewash. 

Going in to this I was thinking it was going to be like a murder mystery, with an unusual twist, and Sorina was going to go all Sherlock Holmes and solve it. I mean...that kind of happens, but there is so much more to the story than that. There's the murder mystery: carnival edition aspect but there's also way more going on than you originally think and the more you read the deeper you go in to the plot under the surface, as I like to think of it. I'm not going to say too much about it because it would ruin the surprise, but there was an additional plot thread or two that added a lot of depth to the plot and made it so much more than just a murder mystery. It really made the story come to life for me that little bit more! Not that I wouldn't love the murder mystery bit on its own...but it was nice to be surprised by this additional thing. 

The world of the book became more and more interesting for me as we ventured outside of Gomorrah. Gomorrah itself was interesting, how could it not be? It was populated by colourful people, you know...assassins, performers and the like, and it travelled around and was set out like a little city with the good part of town and the bad part of town. It fascinated me. But as we read, the outside world came in to play more and more and I became so intrigued by it. I want to know more about the history of it, I mean we get some of it but there's so much more I want to know! It's such an interesting setting alone, with the politics and what's happened in the past and what's trying to happen  in the present. (I'm trying not to spoil it too much so excuse my crappy wording!). I would love more books set in the world of this one so we can explore it some more! 

Daughter of the Burning City is a truly original and brilliant read. It pulls you in to the world of the book, and keeps you there with it's richly dark and evocative settings. The writing is beautiful, as are the descriptions and it brings the characters and story to life and I read this in one sitting because I was so hooked on it. I went in to the book expecting one thing and you know....I did get what I was expecting, but I got so much more as well! The synopsis barely scratches the surface, and I ended up being surprised over and over again as I was reading. There's a colourful bunch of characters that help to bring the story and setting to life, each with their own distinct personalities, and Sorina is a brilliant MC that you can root for and empathise with. 

The plot twists and turns and there's so many surprises as you read both with the plot and with characters, there's ominous notes that add that sense of danger and tension to the book as well! For me, the ending was just perfect. It was such a nice mirror to the beginning of the book, and you could see how the characters had grown and changed and overcome everything. Daughter of the Burning City is one of those books that pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you've finished. I'm kind of hoping for more books, I'm not going to lie! I'd love to revisit Gomorrah and the world it's in! 

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