City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
Series: Bhinian Empire #1
Publisher: Harper Teen on February 5th 2013
Genre(s): Fantasy (YA)
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.
Why is it that reviewing a book you have issues with is so much easier than reviewing a book you like?! Anyways, my overall impression of this book can be described as:
You need more, right?
Nisha lives in a place called the City of A Thousand Dolls. It is basically an orphanage that is big enough to be a city. They take in unwanted girls and train/sell them to be things. Apprentices, healers, musicians, wives, and mistresses.
She was abandoned at the gates of the city when she was six years old has been cared for by the matron ever since. Most of the girls live and train in specific Houses to prepare for their future but Nisha has the privilege of being the Matron’s assistant, she gets to go between the Houses and kinda do what she wants.
Nisha has always felt like she didn’t quite belong and has had a bit of a lonely life. She has a few friends, Tanaya, who is promised to the prince, and Sashi, a quite blind girl that is training to be healer and…all the cats in the city. Yes, cats. Nisha can talk to cats.
She also has a secret, she’s in LOVE….with a boy she can’t have because he’s a noble and she’s a lowly assistant of course. The only way they could be together is if he speaks for her at the Redeeming, a yearly event when buyers come to purchase the girls for…whatever they may need them for. (sidenote, does anyone else find it disturbing that in these types of novels there is always girls training to be sex workers? But they never call it that, it’s usually called house of pleasure or studying womanly arts or something but that’s what it is. And these girls are teenagers or younger and it’s always glossed over as a just a thing that happens. Idk idk.)
Just when Nisha is about to work up the nerve to ask Devon to speak for her, girls in the City start dying. Nisha is charged with finding out who did it and she learns some interesting things about how the City works and about where she really comes from.
So, again, this book was okay. The writing felt a little immature but I can work with that. The story was pretty cookie-cutter and predictable (I made a few predictions early in the book and they were half right) but I enjoyed the imagery and how different Asian cultures were definitely an inspiration. I’m not going to lie, the talking to cats thing was weird. Especially when she refers to one of the cats as her mother-figure but hey, sometimes wish I could actually carry on a conversation with my cats.
What I didn’t like about this book was huge unanswered questions. Like, what happened to her parents, which is a big one and mentioned several times with NO ANSWER. UGH, that drives me nuts. Plus everything at the end is wrapped up at one time and fixed in like 5 minutes and it was just too easy. Like a genie came down and fixed the whole world with one wish.
I don’t think I’ll continue with the series because the next book isn’t about Nisha, it’s about a completely different person so my questions STILL won’t be answered.