Verdict: 3/5 stars
*shrugs* It was fine. It wasn’t amazing, stellar, above average, but there was nothing particularly terrible about it either. Reading it was a perfectly okay experience, but I really doubt I’ll remember much about this in a few weeks. All in all, a solidly average book.
Sorina is the adopted daughter of the proprietor of Gomorrah, a travelling fair that’s a city unto itself. She’s a jynx-worker (someone with magical powers) who’s particularly unique. She can create illusions – including illusions of people that develop their own personalities, effectively becoming real people (in a I think, therefore I am way). When they start getting murdered – which should be impossible – she sets out to find the killer with the help of Luca, the requisite love interest.
Disclaimer: I’ve never quite got the excitement about stories set in circuses. Everybody else gets so excited as soon as the word is uttered, but… I’m just not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate circus/carnival settings, it’s just not enough for me to excuse a mediocre story.
And that’s what Daughter of the Burning City was. It had a lot of interesting ideas (girl who has no eyes! illusions that are their own people!) and potential for some philosophical questions to be asked (what makes someone “real”?) but it never really followed through on that.
The book itself was sometimes interesting. There were some moments where I was bored out of my mind (especially at the beginning) but in the last third, I found myself quite engaged and wanting to know how it ended. (Although I was disappointed to find that I had guessed the ending quite early on. *sad face*)
There are issues with predictability. A lot of the time, the story just felt like it was hitting the same beats as most YA books. (Annoying, handsome boy? Check. People being discriminated against? Check. Going to a party where something happens with said boy? Check.) There just wasn’t enough that was different to really make me care. The demisexuality of one of the characters was nice to see, but I kind of felt like it disappeared as soon as it was mentioned. I realize that I’m very straight and very white so my opinions on discrimination aren’t exactly from experience, but shouldn’t representation go beyond someone just saying “Hey, I’m kind of demisexual! Now let’s never mention or see evidence of this again!”?
I love the title, though! And if you haven’t read a lot of YA books or really love books set in circuses, you probably won’t find this as bland as I did. But if that isn’t you, well… You’re not missing out on anything.