Daughter of the Burning City
By: Amanda Foody
Sorina is the star of the Freak Show in the traveling carnival known as the Gomorrah Festival. More city than anything else Gomorrah is a place of pleasure and decadence. A city that stretches back through the history of this world and burns constantly. The story centers around a murder mystery as someone begins killing off Sorina’s illusions one by one.
Okay, first the good. Gomorrah is fantastic. I loved the setting and the descriptions honestly I thought in those terms this book is actually better than Caraval. The world building held up to. There becomes a fair bit of history and politics that help expand the story and the world. I didn’t think it was too much in fact on that account it would be something I’d be interested in seeing more.
I also liked Sorina’s illusions. While they are definitely secondary I found them interesting for the most part and especially as she creates them to fill the family she doesn’t have. A baby that breaths fire as her brother. A fun sister. A know it all Uncle that’s basically a man-fish.
So what did I have problems with?
Well, Sorina and the story for one. I get that Foody wanted a character that wasn’t completely likable. Sorina is a teenager. She’s frightened. She’s emotional. I was okay with that. I wasn’t overly big on her relationship with Luca and while she says she does she doesn’t really do anything to aid the investigation until the end.
It’s like her father (who runs Gomorrah) has one theory, “Okay, I like that.” Then Luca says it’s something else and she was like, “Okay, I believe that.” She gets the prospect of digging into Gomorrah’s past and such but that goes out the window when she decides she likes Luca. I mean as it goes the interplay wasn’t bad. Maybe it was even believable in her situation. It just got annoying.
I pegged the killer pretty fast although there was another twist that I didn’t see coming that holds some weird implications that I wasn’t entirely big on.
But the thing that really kept tripping me up was Sorina doesn’t have any eyes. When I read that I thought, “Cool! A blind character in this situation. That’s going to be really interesting.” But despite the fact that she’s eyeless she could see perfectly throughout. It’s passed off as magic that she’s not really sure how it works. Neither was I. I thought okay, maybe she can see through her illusions but she’s hardly ever with them and they have their own lives for the most part.
Her sight is an illusion? Okay, I could buy that but then you would think it would be wrong or at least not utterly perfect. I mean even with an illusion you can’t describe someone in detail that you’ve never meet before unless you’ve created them.
Maybe it was all in Sorina’s mind?
No, don’t worry. That’s not the case. Personally it might not bother some people. Most reviews on Goodreads don’t take it into account but it did annoy me. It was like the author wanted it both ways- a cool main character with a deformity (it’s referred to in that terms in the book and she also calls herself a freak so if that’s something that’s going to bother you take it into account) but she totally hand waved the actual blindness and, for me, didn’t even bother to provide a good explanation of how she could see.
Recommend: Yes. But mostly if you like the carnival/circus atmosphere books and because I think there’s a lot of potential here. This reads like a stand alone and I don’t think I’d bother with a sequel but I would be interested in more of her writing in the future.