Friday, July 11, 2014

[Review: City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster]

"City of a Thousand Dolls"
Author: Miriam Forster
Series: Bhinian Empire #1
Pages: 359
Genre: YA, High Fantasy
Date Published: February 5th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format Read: Hardcover from the library


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 Thoughts:

An Open Letter To City of a Thousand Dolls,

You book, are what a high fantasy should be. You delve into a whole bunch of things, but never feel too muddled. You actually (almost) got away with stumping me on the murderer as well, which is a pretty hard to do. Maybe it was because the riddle was easier than normal and I was caught up in your world building, but I think you totally worked as a murder mystery. And your world, let's talk about that-so wonderful. And I was rooting for Nisha from the beginning, so that's good too. Thanks for being solid. Go you!

-The White Unicorn

I went into City of a Thousand Dolls with leery eyes. I had seen some, not so flattering, reviews and yet I was pulled in by the cover and the fact that it was pitched as a murder mystery/high fantasy hybrid. I love when a book mixes two unlikely things and so I was sold and threw my hesitations out the window and dove into the pages. I have to tell you that I'm so glad that I did. I was blown away by this book. There were a few little things that I thought wrapped it up a bit too easily, but in the end that didn't affect how I felt about the overall story.

Forster's world building is top notch. She creates a kingdom with messed up politics and brings them to the forefront. She uses a strict 2 child per family policy which spills over and leaves girl babies in peril. So as an author she created The City of a Thousand Dolls and the rules that live there, along with all of the unwanted females of the Bhinian Empire. There are rules which are written out for us as readers and there are some that are simply implied, but all of these things come together to give us a well rounded city that is both a safe haven and a pit of misery all at once. 

I like that Nisha (the heroine) didn't have a caste that she falls into. It kept her displaced in a place that should have felt like her home. The rest of the girls know what they are good at and where they belong and yet Nisha finds herself the Matron's assistant. It was a great call for Forster as a storyteller. It makes you feel for her as a character early on and it helps you get behind some of her not so great ideas. She's young in some of her actions, but she's also wise beyond her years in other ways. She's an interesting character to study, that's for sure.

The murder mystery was a fun element to add into this story. You have all the politics and the drama created by a city full of females and the power struggles happening and then you add death into the mix. Brilliant. It keeps you on your toes and allows the characters to grow as well. Forster did a grand job of withholding the right clues till the last minute and that made it a little tougher to figure out what was going on. With so many things going on, there are so many options about what could be happening. Plus, there is also the mystery surrounding Nisha and who she really is, which serves as a story builder as well as a distraction.

The romance was a little weird for me, but then again that wasn't what it seemed to be either. I liked that Devon didn't end up being Nisha's saving grace. The little bit I learned about him didn't make him my favorite, so I didn't mind how things ended up going.

Throw in some talking cats, that I can't really talk about and you've got an awesome high fantasy novel. Seriously though, the talking cats were weird for me at first, but I ended up loving them in the end and I liked that Nisha had such a bond with them. 

If you like high fantasy and murder mysteries then this book is totally for you. 

5 Unicorns = Get your hands on this one now!


Jess Chiles said...

Ahhh, this book wasn't even on my radar until this review!

Sarahbotbonkers said...

Talking cats! You really got me there. :) I liked the sound of this book. I'm a high fantasy junkie and it looks like there's a mystery thrown in as well. Perfect! Lovely review, Christianna.

Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

TALKING CATS! Last week, I heard about talking snakes, so that's new, haha. I'm not really that into high fantasy unless I fancy one- so I'll put it on my list anyway. So glad the world building is pretty solid. Shame about the romance, though if you didn't really care about it in the first place, I guess it doesn't matter anyway. :) Glad you enjoyed it so much!

Nicole said...

You almost make me want to read this one again! I did love the world building but the rest of it fell a little flat to me. I did listen to this one tho and I'm wondering if my experience would have been different had I read it. Maybe it wouldn't have come off so young sounding...