I feel like I always start these posts with “It’s been a while. That’s a theme I’m working on changing.” so I’m not doing that this time. I will tell you that I have some (super secret) plans, but for now you’ll have to accept this review as a start.
I have a few life things first I’d like to share with everyone. So I started my senior year of college(!) about a month ago. I’m doing some stuff to prepare for the final things I have to get done this semester and next. Working on some grad school applications. Prepping a paper to present at a conference in November. All the fun stuff, you know?
I haven’t been able to write much because of all this. Or read much, sadly. BUT two nights ago I FINALLY finished DOTBC and I’m so ready to tell you guys all about it!
Let’s do this.
“A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires
Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.”
Back in July I made a post with Amanda Foody about why you should read this book. Now that I HAVE read this book, I’m going to tell you guys again: you need to read this book.
Okay, obviously you don’t need to do anything. But I highly recommend you read this book. Here’s some reasons why:
1. The plot will keep you guessing.
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know my absolute adoration for a good plot twist. Don’t give me obvious ones. Don’t do it. I will hate it. I did not hate these.
Sorina’s investigations into the murders of her family is one that has a lot of potential suspects. The way she goes about identifying people, and the lengths she’s willing to go to to protect them are unsurprising. She has a lot of love for her illusions, her family, and there’s not much she isn’t willing to give up to keep them safe.
2. The characters are my loves. Again, if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know I want my characters layered. I love a good, complex character who doesn’t always fit with what we would consider the norm.
Sorina is The Girl Who Can See Without Eyes. She can be selfish and stubborn, indecisive and frustrating, and will do anything to protect her family, even when “anything” isn’t always the best course of action. So, naturally, I think she’s amazing. She’s also bisexual. But that’s a later point.
Her illusions are all complicated individuals as well. Despite being created by Sorina for her company, they all have distinct personalities and don’t necessarily mesh well with her. They’re vividly described and each have their own lives. When it comes to characters that aren’t exactly “real” this can be difficult to convey, because you’re trying to balance the idea of a “real” person with that of an “imaginary” one. Lines can become blurry and authors might slip into language that clearly shows “these are not real people don’t forget that” (not that all authors do this. Most don’t. But it’s very easy to slip into that language unconsciously). We never really forget that Sorina’s family were created, not born, but we don’t care about that. They appeal to us as people because they are just as lively as the “real” humans are. Sometimes even more so.
I will not say anything about Luca other than he is very special to me, as he reminds me a bit of a close friend of mine. Luca must be protected at all times. Unless you want to slap him for being an ass, which he can be. Then by all means please slap him.
3. It’s set in a traveling circus. The coolest one too. It’s a pretty badass place to grow up and, honestly, I would’ve loved to see more of it. We’re given pretty good descriptions of a few different places in the Gomorrah Festival, but one thing I wish we could’ve gotten some more of was the darker part of the city. I want to be transported there when I read–and for the most part I was–but I would’ve liked just a little more. Still, it’s a setting I loved and I think most readers will adore as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future . . .
4. The diversity is EVERYTHING. We get characters of different racial backgrounds, diversity in appearance and ability, and so much LGBTQIA+ rep my heart was full.
Take Sorina, for example. She’s a Down-Mountainer by birth and was a slave as a child. She’s described as having distinguishing features (no not just her lack of eyes) and isn’t looked down upon by her fellow performers because of it. The festival is full of people from all backgrounds. It’s the Up-Mountainers you’ve got to look out for.
You’ve also got your lovely, lovely LGBTQIA+ rep. Sorina is bisexual. Nicoleta is a lesbian. Luca is, from my reading, demi-sexual and demi-romantic, putting him in the Ace spectrum. Villiam, again from my reading, is aromantic and asexual. Let’s just take a second to appreciate this, okay? Let’s just take one moment to take a deep breath and enjoy this rep.
Did you do it? I did.
5. The overall role of religion. This. Was. Fantastic. I don’t want to get into too much detail here because this is something I think you guys should read for yourselves. But it’s worth mentioning because it plays a HUGE role in the background of the world. Religion and religious fanatics are painted in a way that a lot of us can recognize. It’ll be familiar territory for some, and eye-opening for others. But I think the choice to have it be so prominent in this world Foody has created is ultimately a well-done and slightly twisted (in the best way) one.
So basically what I’m trying to say here is that I really loved this book. I think it was well-written, full of diverse characters, and a fantastic debut. I gave it a 5/5 on Goodreads and I’m fully recommending you guys get this book. From your library, from a bookstore, from a friend, whatever you want! But I really think this is worth the read.
I have free time for the next few days, so I’m off to do a little more reading. Hope this was helpful!