Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
The best thing about Amanda Foody’s debut lies in the title itself. Her ‘Burning City’ is an immersive, sensory experience that rivets from the very first page. The smoke from her travelling circus wafts off the page, the dirt and ash from the trodden ground almost tangible on the tongue. The ‘freaks’ that adorn the mainstage of her Gomorrah Festival are so gaudy and rich that no space is left in the imagination for error. It’s an engulfing and curious experience.
But a good book is more than just its setting, and this story of young Sorina and her quest to uncover who’s murdering her ‘Freak Show’ family is an uneven one.
The premise is intriguing, as each of Sorina’s family members are as bizarre as can be imagined (a baby pyromaniac, a giant, sentient tree and a man made up of enormous finger nails are just a few), and getting to know them, as well as the rules that constrain them in Foody’s world is quite fascinating.
Sorina herself is also an interesting construct: 16 years old, both eyeless and able to see, the only ‘illusion-worker’ in the city and also the person in line to take over management of the city from her adoptive father, Villiam, in the not-too-distant future.
However throughout the book, Sorina flits too easily between overriding confidence and recurring self-doubt in a way that feels difficult to connect with. Throughout her investigation into the murders, she ponders whether or not she is able to ask herself the ‘hard questions’, which ultimately isn’t able to do. This inability holds up the narrative, dawdling too long on romantic entanglements and denying the reader the opportunity to follow any clues to try and work out the end.
The impact of the final reveal feels muted in part because of this hold up in development, meaning it lacks the punch it should have considering the events that have unfolded.
Overarching political conflicts between the circus and its various host cities also fail to feel as significant as they should, especially when suggested as a possible motive for the attacks later on.
However, the attacks themselves are gruesomely depicted, drawn vividly by Foody and making for visceral and uncomfortable reading. The next attack is feared yet perversely desired, and easily one of the primary reasons to keep the pages turning.
But ultimately the pleasure here is in Foody’s world, which is a fresh departure from the norm and a confident statement in a debut novel. Additionally, for its target audience of young adult readers, Daughter of the Burning City is unfailing in its message of acceptance and individuality, woven within an interesting, curious and vivid world.
This Daughter of the Burning City book review was written by Ally Wybrew
Have you read Daughter of the Burning City?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Daughter of the Burning City reader reviews
Abhishek from India
This book is very fantastic and interesting that's why I like this book
8.4/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Ursula Le Guin
As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and hel...
The Kingkiller Chronicle
"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my l...
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him wh...
Year of the Unicorn
Far from the besieged home of Simon and Jaelithe, in peaceful Norsdale, we meet Gillan, who longs to leave her dull life in a secluded country abbey. But when her wish come...
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her...
The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off...
The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School
When her mother finds her sleeping on the ceiling, Amy Thomsett is sent to Drearcliff Grange School in Somerset. Although it looks like a regular 1920s boarding school, Amy...
The Lightbringer Trilogy
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. His strength, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exac...
The Saga of Recluce
LE Modesitt Jr
Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circum...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: