I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I laid eyes on it. That cover? So awesome. I was also promised the possibility of assassins. Assassins. “Assassins” is basically a automatic sign me up word. I went in expecting some really epic fantasy murder-mystery-eque kick-butt awesome fest with a heavy dose of assassins.
This was nothing like I expected. I adored it.
Okay, so I didn’t get the epic fantasy adventure book I was expecting, but I did get a book with an amazingly determined young heroine who makes mistakes, but always works to correct them. I got a beautifully intriguing, if somewhat sad world with “whodunit” murder mystery in which I had no idea who the culprit was. And I got an incredibly adorable, loyal, and simply amazing new cat friend in Jerrit. Seriously though: JERRIT!
The world: The world was beautifully inspired by Asian culture. In a world with a limit on children, The City of a Thousand Dolls was built for unwanted girls. Within this city are multiple “houses” to teach the girls apprenticeships so that they can be bought in the future for their skills. The houses include music, pleasure, healing, nobility, combat, and beauty. Add in a history of magic, spells, and shape-shifting and you have a harsh and beautiful world.
Nisha is simply a heroine you can root for. She would make some rash, emotional decisions, but ultimately worked hard to right her wrongs. She is incredibly determined, curious, and loyal. She’s just got such a good heart! And Jerrit. How I adore him. He’s a talking cat. A talking cat! I’m not a cat person (#DogsRule) but I love books with talking cats. And he is just incredibly sweet and loyal and brave. I adore him.
At its core, this book is a murder mystery. I have to say that it was incredibly well done. I had no idea who the culprit was. This is what kept me glued to my seat because I had to know! Ultimately, while I was somewhat disappointed by the actual murderer (I wanted it to be magic-y – crazy psycho villain anyone?), it was also incredibly believable, albeit petty.
Standalone or no? Technically. There is another book, but it is more of a prequel. It’s about Nisha’s parents so it will include information relevant to this book, but this book does work well as a standalone (if you don’t mind not having all the answers). So far as I know there is no direct sequel in the works.
Though I adored it, 2 things bothered me:
I loved it. I really did. But it is more like a light fantasy murder mystery. I adored the characters (read: JERRIT) and was intrigued by the world she created. It’s also lush and simply beautifully written. However, my biggest issue is the lack of depth. Especially considering the fact that the potential is there. Lots of pieces are given, but never developed. If there was a sequel, I’d most likely be okay with this. Since there is not, it leaves me wanting. However, this book does easily work as a standalone. You get enough information to at least feel closure about Nisha’s past. Any holes in her story will most likely be filled in during the second companion/prequel novel. The world, though, is another story because my interest is in its future, not its past.
Despite these misgivings, I’m so glad I read it. It really was a captivating and beautifully written book with wonderful characters and talking cats.