The YA novel Daughter of the Burning City by American author Amanda Foody, brings to life all the joys and wonders of summer carnivals and reminds readers why they make for such fascinating tales.
Set in a travelling carnival called Gomorrah Festival, sixteen-year-old Sorina is the sole illusion worker to exist in hundreds of years. She lives at the festival with her family who are grotesque looking monsters Sorina constructed with her own imagination, but with hearts of gold and wild talents that will leave readers in awe.
For years, Sorina and her family have put on performances, trying to earn their keep at the festival. Until one night, when a member of Sorina’s family winds up dead. If illusions are only products of her imagination, then how is it possible for them to be killed? Most importantly, who would want to kill her family?
To understand more about her power of illusions and who is targeting her family, Sorina begrudgingly accepts the help of a fellow worker at the carnival, Luca. Unsure whether she can trust this boy who knows the secrets of all the carnival workers—and claims he cannot easily be killed—Sorina is forced to rely on his help to find answers or risk losing the rest of her family.
“The smoke is part of Gomorrah’s legend: once upon a time, we were burned to the ground. But we did not die. Instead we kept burning, kept moving, kept growing. The smoke surrounds us, even if we no longer burn.”
While the novel seems dark on the surface, there are many elements to the story that weave together to create an intricate and detailed universe which extend beyond the pages. Every aspect of the carnival, the people who work there, even life outside the city, soar off the pages with carefully illustrated details that will stimulate the senses such as taste, smell, sounds, and touch. Daughter of the Burning City is a fresh read, lacking those cliché monsters and villains that can bog a book down and feel predictable.
This novel satisfies the love for those dark murder mysteries, while giving readers everything they can expect from a fantasy book: romance, a headstrong main character, and creatures horrifically designed but full of love and good intentions. Foody weaves a story people will care about, that will remind reader’s how important it is to hold the ones you love close and the importance of never giving up on the things that matter most.
A wonderful and light summer read with a hint of crime; Daughter of the Burning City (HarlequinTeen) is a novel that will leave readers nostalgic for a place they wish existed.
About the Reviewer: Kaitlyn Sutey lives in Bracebridge, Ontario. She completed a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing in May 2019 from Dalhousie University. Back at home, she spends most of her time reading and writing novels. Kaitlyn aspires to edit manuscripts for a publishing company, and to one day release a novel of her own. See Kaitlyn here
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