Nisha lives in The City of a Thousand Dolls, a unique walled village where orphaned girls are raised and trained in one of seven houses specializing in various trades and arts. Unlike most of the girls, Nisha belongs to no house. She is the Matron’s assistant, gathering information. Nisha values her unique position until a string of murders jeopardizes her future. She is enlisted to search for clues, only to discover a wide web of deception and danger.
This was a great combination of escapist fantasy and political intrigue. Debut author Miriam Forster is adept at blending a love of beauty, magic, and drama into her story. There is a touch of romance, but this is a story about one girl overcoming odds and coming into her own. Nisha is a great female lead made even greater by the fact that she can talk to (and is loved by) legions of wild cats that roam The City.
The City itself is a great concept, very well-executed. The houses have a Divergent-esque ‘faction,’ feel to them, something that will definitely appeal to the crazy Divergent fans. I loved the Asian-inspired setting and mythology, a nice change in the often extremely Anglo-Saxon world of YA fantasy. This is a very visual book, with lots of descriptions of dresses, luxurious bedrooms, and landscapes. Forster has a great pinterest board where you can check out some of the inspirational images.
The end wraps up a bit too quickly, and there was so much time and care spent building the world that I had rather hoped this would be the beginning of a series. I think Forster could have extended the story over a few books. Fans of more traditional fantasy with an historical feel, such as Kristin Cashore and Shannon Hale, will love sinking into this world. I look forward to whatever Forster does next. She is one to watch!
City of a Thousand Dolls is available February 5th from HarperCollins Canada.