Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
A Young Adult Novel
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
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.
Gosh, that cover pretty much blew me out of the water when I first laid eyes on it. Its as exotic as what lies within the pages. I honestly wish I read this novel sooner having not know what I was missing last February when the novel came out.
Magic has fled, and the Bhinian Empire has established control. And within the Empire exists a two child system, one where boys are the strength that resides. The girls are abandoned, unwanted in society, left to be tended for in the City of a Thousand Dolls, training as apprentices in the arts of music, healing, combat, pleasure, beauty, and nobility until they turn sixteen and have a chance to be Redeemed, sold to men as wives, to be made useful in society. But Nisha, abandoned at the gates of the City, too old to truly fit in to any of the houses, tries to figure out who she really is, why she can speak with the cats that follower around, and why her parents left her all those years ago. But mystery ensues when girls in the City start dying, and foul play is involved. And Nisha finds herself in a much deeper mystery when secrets of her past start revealing themselves as it grows closer to her time at the Redeeming.
Absolutely fond of this novel, I really was. Though it took some time to dive into, City of a Thousand Dolls does not take long for the impending mystery to take place. From the get-go, Nisha's life is filled with mystery regarding her upbringing. Not only can she talk to the cats that roam around the City, but she has a mysterious tiger tattoo and wonders about its meaning and what it has to do with her. Even while reading, the mystery revolving around the Bhinian Empire starts to unfold while Nisha takes it upon herself to catch the person killing innocent girls. The story does nothing but rise above what original expectations I had.
Personally, Nisha was hard to connect with while reading. Her status in CoaTD (pardon my abbreviation, spelling it out all the time gets tedious) is the assistant to Matron, who is basically the headmaster of the City. But Nisha feels that she doesn't belong and is considered worthless in the eyes of the Bhinian Empire because she is not concentrated in a single House honing a single skill. But, wouldn't being the assistant to one of the most powerful women in the City be an asset for Nisha? She is able to enter every House in the City and can takes lessons, so isn't she valuable? The structure of the City and the Empire became the roadblock that made Nisha's situation hard to seem realistic in this fantastical world. And while I loved the cats and the fact that Nisha could communicate with them, making them outrageously fantastic side characters, I enjoyed their presence more than I enjoyed Nisha's narration.
Final Summation: If you're looking for a fantasy world with more Eastern influence and a gripping mystery, City of a Thousand Dolls should makes its way to the top of your TBR list. The world-building makes for a typical young adult read, and there are some plot holes regarding Nisha's role in society in order to make her seem like an outcast (that really make her seem like the best candidate), but City of a Thousand Dolls has a captivating element about it, and the writing is done well to the point that I become hooked and unable to put the book down for sections at a time.
Four targets wonderfully slayed