Title: Daughter of the Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Circus
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
I cannot think of the last time I read a book that was so unique, and yet so in line with today's young adult themes. Amanda Foody has taken the currently popular setting of a circus, a main character with unique powers and put a spin on it that is so imaginative I'm jealous I can't think like her.
Our main gal is able to make illusions that become permanent. So her friends and family are all 'living' embodiments of people she has created in her head. This clever element of Daughter of the Burning City puts into question what is alive, what is dead and above all else what is 'real'. These illusions speak and interact as their own personalities on their own. They are tied to our lead gal but not in an physical essence, just on a plain only she can see. I cannot over emphasize how unique this is and how much it affects the entire story from there. Our leading gal is also able to create illusions that trick people into believing they see (or don't see) something that isn't there which goes hand-in-hand with her living characters. While the beginning of Daughter of the Burning City is difficult to follow at first, once you settle in and get past about 50-100 pages the drop you in beginning is long forgotten because the story and characters start to feel like long lost friends.
I am usually not impressed with romantic entanglements in young adult. Graceling being one of my few exceptions to the rule for example. I can now add Daughter of the Burning City next to those rare young adult books that take a story with teenage romance and make it believable in that scary and uncertain, with no confidence or logic. The relationships in this book between everyone are very real and genuine but our main gal alongside the love interest felt like I was reliving one of my first relationships as a teenager. An attraction where you feel lost and everything is scary yet exhilarating at the same time. Additionally the pacing of the relationship is very well done. Kudos to Foody for not creating an insta-love situation (and no love triangle!!) and instead creating that lust and draw that comes with first teenage attraction to the moment where you realize you may never breathe again without that person next to you.
I was very worried around the 75% mark that I was not going to be pleased with the ending of this story. I couldn't figure out the mystery and all the theories I came up with just didn't make sense or were 'cheap' (broke the confines of what was known to be true).
So I was blown away by the ending and absolutely loved it!! It makes total sense and is like the icing on the cake to this gorgeous, engaging and captivating novel. I can't say anything more for fear of spoilers; so if you want to know more you'll just have to read the book!
Immediately after finishing the Daughter of the Burning City I felt like maybe Foody missed something. I couldn't quite place my finger on why I didn't want to give it 5 stars. So I mulled on it for a couple of days, and I've come to the conclusion (without re-reading it) that it's because it is just so imaginative and the ending had so much impact that I felt like there should be a hole somewhere. Besides finding the beginning a little bit confusing I cannot deny the fact that I've never really experienced a story quite like this one. It stands alone in my mind as a truly unique story, with interesting characters and bizarre concepts of magic
On a reread I believe I would love this book even more. (If only I had time to do so!)
Officially my grade would be 4.25 stars but as I think this is a story to be revisited and re-read many times I am upgrading it to 5 stars.
I would easily recommend this to any young adult fantasy reader and look forward to putting the trade paperback version on my permanent print bookshelf.