Published By: Harlequin Teen
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: 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.
Review: A smouldering circus, illusions, magic and a mysterious evil killer – what more could one want in one story?
I am loving all these YA circus/festival based books coming out of late. I am always drawn to books with circus/festival settings, as they tend to bring a natural element of magic, mystery and enchantment and they just have an overall dreamlike quality to them, and Daughter of the Burning City is no exception.
I read a proof copy of this book, and I will admit that I missed not having the the illustration aspect to this book. There are not a lot of illustrations within the story, but the ones that are included add a lovely but sinister touch to the storyline and an added insight into both our protagonist and our mysterious murderer.
Daughter of the Burning City is quite unique in the fact that illusions may not be all that they seem. Some illusions cross the boundary of reality by having their own personalities and feelings. This is in addition to world-building in a dark and dangerous place. This mysterious smoke fringed carnival is brimming with quirky and wondrous festival activities and exquisite and scary magic.
This story jumps straight into the thick of mystery and murder. Although the mystery is not just surrounding the unknown perpetrator, but in the fact that it is magic itself being killed. It is Sorina’s self-made family that has come under attack, her family who are solely made of illusions. So not only is the murderer a mystery, but also the fact of how an illusion can be murdered – and most importantly, how does the murder know these secrets of her magic, when Sorina doesn’t know herself?
The characters in this story are unique – and to be honest, they are the true stars of this show! Whilst I loved the magical setting, it was the characters that truly intrigued me and to be honest, I just wished there was more depth to them. Even Sorina who felt that bit out of reach for most of the story. The characters (particularly the secondary ones) are fascinating and we got strong hints at who they were, but I felt that I was just an inch away of discovering the full depth of that.
The burning city, or Gomorrah, is beautifully described and one of the things that I loved about this story. It is fully developed going into the story, however so much remained a mystery due to Sorina’s own lack of knowledge, or in fact, lack of interest outside of herself. Which I suppose is a good thing, as due to this we get a glimpse at some of the city as Sorina explores (but I would have liked more).
Overall I really enjoyed Daughter of the Burning City, although there were things I wished had been expanded on a little more – but I am one who likes in-depth world-building, vivid descriptions and political turmoil, so in my opinion the shortfalls are nothing that 100 more pages couldn’t have fixed.
Filled with tricks and illusions, secrets and delusions, this is one freak show of a book!
Oh, and let’s be totally honest here – that cover is GORGEOUS!