Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City
Amanda Foody
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Harlequin TEEN for the ARC I received at BookExpo!

When I read the blurb for Daughter of the Burning City, I knew that I needed to make it a priority to grab at BEA - having loved Caraval, an endorsement from Stephanie Garber really sold me on this carnival-centric book. After reading the book, I can say that it definitely did not disappoint me, and I loved every second of it.
"Wicked, wicked to the core, the city will burn forevermore."
Daughter of the Burning City follows Sorina and her Freak Show in the traveling city of Gomorrah's festival. Sorina is an illusion worker, which immediately intrigued me since I had just recently finished The Rose Society, but besides just projecting illusions into the minds of others, she can also create living illusions. These not-so-imaginary creations are Sorina's family and are a part of her show's act, but everything changes when one of her illusions ends up dead.

The city of Gomorrah is a fascinating setting for the story. I think the idea of a carnival always has two sides - the excitement of the performances paired with a sort of creepy undertone, a darkness behind the flashing lights. The city of Gomorrah is built in a similar way. The uphill area is family friendly, filled with fun performances, including Sorina's Freak Show. On the other hand, the downhill is a dark place filled with pickpockets, prettywomen, and assassins. As the proprietor's daughter, Sorina will someday inherit the job, but this story follows her as she is exploring the downhill for the first time as part of her investigation into her illusion's death.

I loved the layers that Amanda Foody built into Gomorrah as well as the surrounding cities. The cities outside of Gomorrah, in a way, mimic the city itself: there is the Upmountain, filled with religious zealots and wealth, and the Downmountain, a place seen by the Upmountainers as filth. Additionally, the Upmountain disciples of Ovren view jynx workers like Sorina as devil workers, unclean and unnatural. Now imagine the Upmountain and drop Gomorrah, a city of sin, in the middle. Besides the dynamic of the city itself, Amanda Foody was able to add in elements of the world around them while still crafting a mystery and romance and much more. IN UNDER 400 PAGES!!! Honestly, iconic. There was no point where I felt like the world building was forced or hard to follow - it was all laid out in a way that made it easy to understand and natural.

As for the characters, I was amazed by how vivid each of the characters were. Even though Sorina was the main character, her illusions and other secondary characters were still so real. Even a pickpocket who wasn't heavily involved in the story was still given layers, leaving me caring for him even though he was kind of a crook. Sorina's illusions' lives didn't revolve around her - they all had lives of their own.

Sorina was a really interesting character in that she had a lot of insecurity that she had to work past. Sorina was constantly second guessing herself, letting others who she viewed as smarter than her take the lead in situations where she was fully competent. I really enjoyed watching her grow throughout the book, finding her way and the confidence to ask the hard questions and find the hard answers.

And then there was the romance. I don't want to give too much away, but it was definitely unexpected in some ways. Regardless to the circumstances, it was super swoony and there was humor and support and basically it was an ideal, healthy relationship in the end, which is really nice to see in YA since I feel like a lot of romance focuses on the struggle rather than the support.

Overall, Daughter of the Burning City was a brilliantly crafted story filled with mystery, magic, and so much more. While I personally had a bit of a rocky start getting into it, this book quickly grabbed my attention and drove me crazy when there were pieces of the puzzle that I wasn't seeing. Filled with solid character building, flawless world building, a quick pace, and enticing mystery, this book will not disappoint.

If you had a circus act, what would it be?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. This one sounds great!! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm really glad to hear there are some great character developments and descriptions, even for some of the more secondary ones. I'm a big character fan. :)

    As for my circus act, oh gosh I don't know! I'm so scared of heights so that limits things. lol


  2. This one sounds so fantastic! I'm getting Caraval/The Night Circusvibes and I love that. I can't wait to read it after reading your review! <3
    Megan @ http://wanderingsofabookbird.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. OOoh nice! Once I started seeing this and hearing bits and pieces about it, I immediately added it to my wishlist! It sounds like a fascinating and intriguing read! Glad to hear it was just that! Definitely can't wait to give this one a try somewhere down the line! Nice review!

  4. I was always intrigued by this book but ultimately decided it's not for me. I'm glad to see the romance was full of support and not struggle though! That's a major plus :D but the world-building just seems meh for me and I was also not a fan of Caraval. Maybe one day I'll pick this up at the library!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

  5. Vivid characters and an awesome sounding world- this one looks great. I have to say the premise appeals to me too. I agree with you carnivals seem to have a glitzy yet somewhat unsavory vibe at the same time- nice when a story can capture that. Glad you enjoyed it so much after a shaky start.

    Lovely cover.

  6. I have this one coming up, so I didn't read the review, just saw your rating and I'm even more excited!!

  7. I got this as an ARC and am soo excited to read! This wonderful review has me even more pumped!

  8. This book certainly intrigues me but I'm not fully certain it's one I will read. I love the setting and the concept interests me but I'm still not sure if it's me getting sucked in by the carnival setting. You review definitely makes me think it's one I should give a chance so I'll keep my eyes peeled for this.