City of a Thousand Dolls
by Miriam Forster
Series: Bhinian Empire #1
Published: February 5th 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN: 0062121308 (ISBN13: 9780062121301)
Source: Bought Myself
Reading Level: 13 and up
Shelf Award: Pretty Cover
Rating: 3 Stars
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.
I have been on a fantasy kick ever since I read The Girl Of Fire and Thorns (SO GOOD) and I thought this would be a perfect fit! It mentions assassins! And I love me some assasins! And an abilities to talk to cats! Awesome right?
Well, no. I ended up disappointed. Upon reading I found myself picturing Nisha as a thirteen year old and not the 16 year old she was depicted as even despite the kissing scenes. Speaking of depiction…She wasn’t described much at all… All I really had to go on was the darkened image of the girl holding swords on the cover and so that really didn’t help in my connecting with the Main character. And where were the assassins!? I kept waiting and waiting for them to be introduced! I feel like the idea was great but the execution was lacking. I really liked the idea of having girls be trained in different houses according to their affinities. The House of Flowers trained girls to be Nobles, The House of music, The House of Pleasure, The House of Jade trains scholars/healers/etc, House of Combat, The House of Beauty. But it wasn’t enough to make the book extraordinary.
Also, the plot felt very mish-mashed. And her going about finding the murderer seems too messy. She seems aimless and desperate. Granted, she has good reason to be desperate. If the author intended to pass Nisha as a desperate heroine she succeeded.
However, what did keep me from marking this as a DNF and enjoying it in the end was the world building and the constant hinting at secrets concerning Nisha! I really enjoyed the imagery and just HAD TO find out what was so special about Nisha. Also the secondary characters like Jerrit, Nisha’s cat companion, was a plus I enjoyed. Their dialogue was sweet and funny!
There are a few parts where we see that she could REALLY give her enemies THE HURT but I felt myself wanting for more. Had the couple kissing scens been taken out, this book would have been a much better Middle Grade book. I wish I had loved it more. Nothing really stood out for me. Which is a shame. I love fantasy and I LOVE assassins!
Reading this book felt like the author first wrote the middle and the end then tried attach a middle to it. It felt disconnected. I am sad I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped.
Someone who wants an easy read. I guess…