Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City


Rating Three Star

Title: Daughter of the Burning City

Author: Amanda Foody

Series? No

Rating: 3/5 Stars


Book Depository ||  Dymocks  ||  Booktopia

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of the Burning City is an intoxicating murder mystery unfolding in the middle of a dark and mysterious magical circus. At the centre of this novel is Sorina, a girl with no eyes, yet graced with the ability to weave complex and realistic illusions – some of whom serve as her closest companions. Personally, I loved the evocative writing and discovering the dark corners of Gomorrah’s festival. However, the characterisation and plot were a little thin, and I found the book ultimately predictable.

Daughter of the Burning City

Amanda Foody’s writing is immersive and incredibly visual, it’s hard to believe that this is her debut novel. From the very first scene, she captures the reader’s every sense with descriptions of the sights and sounds of the Gomorrah Festival’s Freak Show. The setting and characters were easy to visualise, and like Sorina’s audience, I was captivated. I also appreciated the attention to detail that went into the realisation of Gomorrah, even the taste of kettlecorn are described in a memorable manner.

While there are several books set in circus, I felt this one stood out due to the vivid world-building and unique plotline. Sorina’s various illusions and their distinctive characteristics were particularly memorable, I also enjoyed the way the book explored the concept of ‘freaks’ and their atypical physical appearances being used as entertainment. As Sorina herself has no eyes, she experiences first hand discrimination entirely based on appearance, even though her sight is intact due to magic.

It felt that the book got a little carried away with exploring Gomorrah and forgot about the pacing at various points in the novel. As the book centre on a murder mystery, I felt the writing lacked a sense of urgency and momentum. I have issues getting into mysteries in general, as I usually figure out the ending fairly quickly – and this was certainly the case with Daughter. Hence, the conclusion of the book was the weakest part of the novel for me.

I also found it difficult to connect to Sorina and her illusions. Despite being depicted as a family unit, I never got sensed chemistry between these characters. I also found the romantic storyline to be uninspired, and I have forgotten most of Sorina’s interactions with Luca although I only finished the book two days ago. A lot of the character relationships were told rather than shown to the readers. I was also told that there was demisexuality rep within this novel, but it was barely mentioned within the text itself.

Overall, I found Daughter of a Burning City a very promising debut despite having issues with pacing and characterisation. I’ll be looking forward to more of this author’s future works.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City

  1. Lovely review, Aentee! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed that one, world-building and writing style. I’m sorry the characterisation wasn’t so great, though. I’m still intrigued by the story and I think I’ll give that one a chance 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. I think our feelings on this one are pretty similar. Some great world building (although I thought maybe a little too much for one book) but let down a little by a lack of connection between the characters and for me a general lack of emotional engagement with the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review, Aentee, and I agree with you wholeheartedly! I also figured out the murderer pretty early on, and so did my buddy read. But I was amazed by the scenery, although I’m sad we never got to see that Menagerie perform!


  4. I’ve just started reading this so I was really excited to see you’d posted your review! I completely agree that pacing can make or break a book, and if it’s not consistent it tends to dampen my enjoyment of a novel. That being said, I’m curious to see how I find DOTBS as the plot progresses. Lovely review Aentee!


  5. Great review! Hadn’t heard of this one yet, but good to know that the demi rep isn’t much. If I had heard there was demi rep in it and picked it up without knowing there isn’t actually that much, I would’ve been disappointed


  6. I’ve been loving all the circus books that have been coming out, and I was really looking forward to this one. I might be more hesitant because characterization & pacing is important to me, especially if you had a hard time connecting with the MC. I’m still interested, but it’s good to know to go into it with lower expectations. Great review!


  7. I haven’t heard of this until now, but just reading the blurb I can tell that this would be something I would pick up. But I’m sad to hear about the plot and how forgettable it is. Don’t think I’ll be adding this to the TBR just yet. Thanks for the review Aentee!


  8. I was unsure of this one, after being majorly burned by Caraval. It’s also really annoying when you can predict the ending way in advance.

    But I trust your opinions, so might give this a go if I come across it!


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