Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Series: Bhinian Empire #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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 had no idea what to expect when I picked of CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS. The blurb didn’t give too much information, and the main reason I gave this one a chance was because it was a 2013 debut. In any case, I’m so glad I picked it up because it easily became one of my favorites.
Anyway, I’m not quite sure what time period this takes place in but there seems to be a lack of technology and such so I marked it as a historical fantasy. Of course, it could be the exact opposite and be a dystopia but I much prefer the idea that this takes place in the past.
The fantasy elements aren’t quite as prominent as the (fantastic) world building is, but the story is magical nonetheless. Nisha is dropped off as a child in the City of a Thousand Dolls, a place where orphaned and unwanted girls go to train to be useful and have a future. The city has a number of Houses dedicated to a certain craft, some of them are: Combat, Beauty, Music, and Flowers.
Nisha, our heroine, is not a part of any House, but is an assistant to the Matron, although her job description is closer to an informant than an assistant. Her position already puts her in danger, but when girls keep end up dead and Nisha’s only choice is to investigate, things get even more deadly.
Although the risks are high, Nisha never backs down. She is a likable, smart, and tough protagonist with a good, honest heart. A true heroine.
The murder mystery is completely unpredictable, and I didn’t foresee the killer. It was a major shock when everything was unveiled in the end. It always kept me on the edge of my seat, and there was never a lull in the story. Great pacing.
CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS has a huge cast of lovable characters, including some special talking cats. (Who doesn’t love talking animals?) My favorite was Jerrit, who took it upon himself to become sort of an animal bodyguard and companion to Nisha.
There was some romance, but the true love exists between the bond of friendship and loyalty that many of the girls (and cats) have with each other.
Overall, this story was completely original and unique. Everything was tied up extremely well and in the end-especially after that CRAZY plot twist!-we have a marvelous debut novel of 2013, and one of my favorites of the year.
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I read this book for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.