Daughter of the Burning City – Review!

Hey all! 

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.

From Amazon:

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!

Kailey

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Change of Plans

Remember a few months ago when I was like “I want to read more diverse books. I’ll get you guys a list”? Yeah, about that . . .

I know originally I said I’d be providing a list of books with neurodivergent main characters. I still am (sort of), but I’ve decided to add in a few more things to keep it interesting. So I’m actually going to have MULTIPLE LISTS!! (cue the confetti)

First up we’ve got our list of neurodivergent MCs:

Next I thought I’d provide you with a few books with some lovely trans characters:

  • Transformed: San Francisco by Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey (amazon) (goodreads)

Thirdly we have our beautiful aces:

And finally allow me to present you with a list of books that have gorgeous bisexuals:

Thanks so much to my friend Caitlin for helping me compile these lists! You should all go talk to her. She’s cool I promise.

Yeah, okay, I know. This list is pretty pathetic. Do you want to know why? Because if I sat here and typed up every book I found, none of us would be going anywhere for a long, long while.

Here’s the deal: I found a lot of information. When I started researching, I was pretty overwhelmed. These books are definitely out there you guys. You just have to look for them.

I was so excited to share these titles with you. I actually started writing this post almost two months ago. At the time I had a more optimistic idea about it. And then I stopped and thought for a minute. There was no way I could read all of these books before posting this. It would take so much time, and I did want to get this list here for you. And the idea of posting a list of books I (or in this case someone I trust the opinion of) haven’t read? To me that is a terrible idea. They could be offensive or badly written or not representative in a good way. So, I went with listing a few books that Caitlin has read (along with a couple I have) because I trust her opinion on this and know she would never lead you guys astray.

But don’t think I’m just going to leave you guys at that. Nope, I found exactly what I needed in a Twitter thread. So, without any more babbling from yours truly, here is a list of trans #ownvoices authors, as recommended by Ana Mardoll on Twitter.

Here is a link to the neurodivergent #ownvoices tag on Twitter.

Here is a link to the bisexual #ownvoices tag on Twitter.

Here is a link to the asexual #ownvoices tag on Twitter.

I’m also going to plug Tristina Wright here because I’m so excited for her book 27 Hours it’s crazy. It’s got plenty of representation too (see you thought it didn’t fit in this post but it does)(I sometimes get stuff right).

If you guys want to do more research on this, I recommend just typing that into your searchbar to start. Yeah, you’re probably going to run into problems sooner rather than later, but it’s a place to start. And I would like to really, really stress the importance of supporting #ownvoices creators. Seriously. This is so important. I can’t even begin to explain how much it matters that you support your #ownvoices creators.

(Have you noticed I keep using the hashtag? Have you taken the hint and plugged it into your favorite social media yet? You should. Just saying.)

I know this isn’t what I promised. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what I thought this post would be. But I hope you explore the titles here and find some of your own that you love.

Well, I have editing to get back to. Bye!

Kailey