Title: City of a Thousand Dolls
Author: Miriam Forster
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? Not sure
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mystery
Page Count: 361
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. (summary from goodreads)
Ever since I stumbled over the summary for CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS, I wanted to read it. So I was literally jumping up and down when I saw it in my Amazon Vine picks.
Lately, books that I’ve been excited about haven’t lived up to the hype for me, so I was a bit nervous to start CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS. Happily for me, once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to keep myself from reading ahead — every time I turned the page, my eyes would be looking at the right page before I’d started the left.
I think the worldbuilding was my favorite part of CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS. The basic concept is that the city houses unwanted daughters and gives them value. The girls are trained in various arts, such as dance or music, or intended to be wives or concubines. In a world that only allows families to have two children, it’s a much better solution than those girls being killed after birth.
Nisha is the only girl not part of a house. Instead, she’s the Matron’s messenger and informant. When girls start dying within the city, Nisha investigates at the Matron’s request, and also to save herself from being sold as a slave. CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS is a combination of mystery and fantasy, and I really liked that most of the book focused on Nisha solving the mysterious deaths rather than moping about a boy. Not that there isn’t romance within the book, but it’s not the entire story.
The romance with Devan was actually one of the weak points for me. Although I appreciated that the relationship wasn’t of the instant, love at first sight variety, it still didn’t click for me. That said, the relationship did give Nisha a chance to grow at the end of the book, as well as to show just how strict the caste system and world Forster has created is. CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS has a mix of Asian and Indian influences.
Another plus for me was the talking cats who live in the city. Nisha is the only person that can talk to them, and they are her guardians and friends. Each cat has their own personality, and I have to say, I’d love a Jerrit in my own life, even though I’m not a cat person.
CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS has some flaws, but overall, I was enchanted with it. I didn’t want to put it down until I’d read the entire book. I would love to read another book set in the same world, perhaps picking up where CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS ends. I hope that Nisha’s story isn’t over.
Give CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS a look if you like Asian or Indian inspired stories, fantasy and/or mystery.