Title: City of a Thousand Dolls
Author: Miriam Forster
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Bhinian Empire (Book 1)
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 361 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062121308 (HarperTeen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062121301 (HarperTeen)
Reviewed by: Kayla
The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. 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. She makes her way as Matron’s errand girl, 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 also her life.
Quick & Dirty: A girl who’s an outcast discovers her heritage while also trying to solve a murder mystery inside the City of a Thousand Dolls.
Opening Sentence: “Don’t move, Nisha.”
I think the synopsis is a bit misleading. I started this book thinking it was going to be about a school that trained assassins or something to that degree, but instead, the book focused on a orphaned girl with a lot of secrets. The assassins are just a small tidbit of a much more complex plot.
Nisha is an outcast. Her parents left her at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was a toddler, and now she’s a jack-of-all-trades without a true place to fit in. There is one positive though: for some reason the Matron of the city appointed Nisha as her assistant right from the start. With at least one leader on her side (and her band of trusty cats), Nisha feels somewhat protected from the greedy council who want to sell her as a slave. But then…girls start dying. Accidentally. Or coincidentally? With a new purpose and determination to clear her friend’s name, Nisha is on the hunt of the killer, despite the risk to her own life.
My feelings for this book are similar to when I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Interesting at first. Slow in the middle. Exciting and heart-pounding at the end (with great potential for the next book). The overarching plot didn’t actually bloom until the middle of the book, but there were minor arcs that kept me reading. Throughout the middle there would be sections of nothing happening then a big event/secret reveal, then another few chapters of nothing, then another event. You get the idea. Those big events drove the story throughout the middle of the book – not the characters. It was mainly Nisha on quests to uncover a clue about the murders. Every now and then we’d get something about her heritage, but those were vague and few and far between (not that vague is bad. Just boring.)
As the story grew on me, the main character, Nisha, also grew on me. In the beginning I wasn’t too fond of her. She lacked independence and took rash actions. But throughout the entire book you can see her motives change and develop. She discovers her identity, makes new friends and breaks others. The only thing I didn’t like: her boyfriend.
Devon and Nisha had already met and started dating three weeks before the book started. He is part of the royal family and could have a higher job than courtier, but any other job would take him away from Nisha (Sweet right? Did I mention they’ve only known each other for three weeks?) Already, Nisha has been thinking about Devon speaking for her at the Redeeming – basically an auction to sell the girls either as wives, apprentices or just company. Since Nisha is castless, for a royal to speak for her would be preposterous, and if someone found out about their secret romance before the Redeeming, it could cost Nisha her life. I didn’t like Devon from the very start. He was oblivious to the risk Nisha was taking just to meet with him and ignorant of the unspoken rules of the royals. Nisha practically idolized him while he treated her as a cute pet with benefits. But there is hope! There’s potential for another suitor in Nisha’s future…
Overall, this wasn’t a bad book. It wasn’t a book I fell head over heels for either. Although the cliffhanger isn’t at all awful, I still cannot wait for the next installment. There is so much potential in the next book, plus I just want more of Jerrit.
It happened so fast that Nisha barely saw it. One moment she was holding Tac’s hand; the next, Tac had sprung up and backed Devan against a tree. The gleaming point of a dagger rested on the courtier’s throat.
The young nobleman’s eyes were wide with fear. “Call him off, Nisha,” he said, his voice cracking. “Please, I’m begging you.”
Nisha wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. But she had no more tears, and it wasn’t that funny. “Let him go, Tac,” she said through dry lips.
Tac lowered the dagger. The look he gave Nisha was one of mixed frustration and grief, as if he had taken her heartbreak and made it his own. Then he spun and punched Devan full in the face.
FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of City of a Thousand Dolls. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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