Review: City of a Thousand Dolls (DAC)

June 23, 2013 Review 20 ★★★★½

Review: City of a Thousand Dolls (DAC)
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 359
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.

Image from

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.

If you liked this review and thought it helpful, please vote so on Amazon HERE.
I read this book for the 2013 Debut Author Challenge.


Rating Report
Overall: 4.7

20 Responses to “Review: City of a Thousand Dolls (DAC)”

  1. Melissa (i swim for oceans)

    Oh, wow. I didn’t really give this book much thought before, but it’s definitely an intriguing premise, and I love how you said the follow-through is fantastic. Plus, the characters sound engaging, and that’s a huge must for me. I’m totally adding this one to my TBR pile now. Thank you so much for such a fantastic, glowing review, Alisa! :)

    • Alise

      Glad I had an influence on you! I really hope you enjoy this one when you get around to reading it :)

  2. Kezia D

    I think I saw this at the bookstore a few weeks ago but I didn’t buy it cause I read the synopsis and it’s uninteresting for me…

    Nisha seems like the type of heroine that I would like and I’m such a big fan of fantasy and mystery! And shocking plot twists too! Thanks for reviewing, Alise. Or else I would have missed this book xD
    Kezia D recently posted…[DNF] Linked by Imogen Howson

    • Alise

      Too bad! I didn’t expect to look it that much at first because the summary was pretty vague but I ended up loving it. Hope you check it out :)

  3. Aman

    I’ve seen this book around but haven’t really read a lot of review for it. I’m amazed that even though the era is unknown, the story is still brilliant in itself. Nisha sounds like someone I could relate to very easily. I love that there isn’t any cliffhanger and the story wraps up pretty neatly. Now, I’m definitely going to check it out. great review, Alise!
    Aman recently posted…Early Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

    • Alise

      Yeah, I haven’t seen many reviews of it either. Nisha was great. I know there is going to be a companion novel, but yeah, there is a definite ending. I hope you like it when you get around to reading it :) Thanks!

  4. Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

    Oooh, unpredictable murder mystery plus really awesome fantasy premise? Plus characters that you really liked, which is SUPER important in any book. That sounds awesome! I’ve read conflicting reviews about this one, so I’m thinking this is definitely a book I’ll have to try out for myself.

    • Alise

      I haven’t read any reviews but I think I may go and read a negative one to see what other people think. I would love to know your opinion if you ever decide to read it!

  5. Bec

    I REALLY want to read this if I ever get the chance. It’s been on my watch list and may be one of the books I venture to the library for…

  6. Gina @ My Precious

    I’ve heard of this one and seen some decent reviews. I’ve thought about buying it, but just wasn’t convinced. Your review was great, touching on some of the originality and creativity of the story. I definitely believe this is a book I’d enjoy. I will be adding it to my TBR and wish list – thanks!

    • Alise

      I agree, the blurb didn’t sell me either, but the story is fantastic. I really hope you enjoy it if you read it! :)

    • Alise

      I really hope you do because it’s a great book! I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you end up reviewing it!

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