Author: Miriam Forster
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
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.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I wasn’t expecting to like it, and I honestly almost gave up when I was about 50 pages in, but I told myself I was just tired and that I needed to suck it up and stick with it. And so I did, and I found that I really enjoyed the book. I’m not really a fantasy person, the way that I like my fantasy is as close to reality as possible. By that I mean, pronounceable names and to be almost like the middle ages, but with magic. This book was not like that, at all, but I still found myself liking it.
This world sort of reminded me of China to be honest. There is a two child maximum in families, and so baby girls were not wanted as much because people wanted strong boys to carry on the family name. People from all stretches of society could leave their unwanted daughters in this place, The City of A Thousand Dolls, to be trained in one area and then sold off as apprentices, wives or mistresses. There is a caste society and an Emperor, so it’s a lot like old China and new China with magic. And talking cats, but we’ll get to that.
I thought the set up was really interesting. The whole idea of different houses with different purposes raising the girls for these different roles. A house of Music, Pleasure, Combat, and various others all worked together to raise these girls for a different purpose in life. Nisha, our main character sort of just floats as an assistant to the sort of house mother. This gives her access to learn from all of the houses if she so chose to do. I’m not sure that I really liked Nisha, and I can’t put my finger on why. She was kind and selfless, but she seemed a little too perfect in that respect. She also talked to cats, which was pretty awesome on its own, but still. Edit: I figured out what it was. She got her way with everything wayyy too easily and that irked me.
I loved the cats so much in this book, they were all so interested in helping Nisha find out what was going on in the city, but not only that, they were so protective over her and what was going on. I also liked that the plot revolved around the murders and Nisha’s attempt to solve them as opposed to a relationship being the center of the book. In fact, Nisha’s love interest was hardly a part of the book at all, and I loved that she had that individuality to not be focused on the boy she liked when someone was killing girls all around her.
The Courts Decision: