Review 297. Miriam Forster – City of a thousand dolls.

12084278Title: Miriam Forster.
Author: City of a thousand dolls.
Pages: 359.
Published: February 5th 2013 by Harper Teen.
Sort: Bhinian Empire #1.

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.


It’s very important that you go into this book with the right expectations. After some reviews I found out that this book is pitched as ‘fantasy,’ but there are not many fantasy elements. This gave me the chance to read this book for what it is: an entertaining story that made me curious for more.

Nisha has been abandoned at the gates of the City of a thousand dolls when she was eight years old. This is the place where unwanted girls grow up in order to gain a future. They are placed into one of the Houses (like House of Jade for wisdom or House of flowers for the nobility) where they learn a trade. Other people, most of the times males, can buy them at the Redeeming. Nisha has never been placed in one of those houses, but she grew up as the spy from the Matron, the leader of the City. This has given her opportunities to learn all kinds of trades from different houses, but it doesn’t make her loved. She has two friends, but her best friends are the cats. Nisha can talk with them and Jerrit is always there for her. He tries to help her figure out why girls are dying and Nisha must hurry up before she is sold into a life she never wanted.

Be aware that this book is slow-paced. It’s a nicely crafted story, but the middle part isn’t exciting or mind-blowing. It’s a subtle story that takes it’s time and I really liked it, but it’s not a story everyone will fall in love with. Most of the book is about Nisha and the mystery around the dead girls. There is a connection and it does take her a lot of time to figure it out. I felt a bit annoyed that she didn’t figure it out any sooner, but I could also understand why she was blind for the true killer.

Her relationship with the cats, most of all Jerrit, was adorable! I loved their conversations and it’s very clear they care a lot about Nisha. It was an unique connection and I've never read a book about such a friendship before. I also had a feeling there was more to it and I was happy that I was right, because it gave the story a fairytale-like aspect.

The romance was pretty good. It’s on the background and plays an important role in Nisha’s life. I never liked Devan the way she liked him, but the moments they share were cute. It shows how desperate she is to have someone in her life who cares about her. Nisha still feels abandoned by her parents and she doesn’t understand how they could have left her. It doesn't make her weak though and she doesn't let herself get overwhelmed by her feelings for Devan.

The concept of the City and those houses was fascinating. It’s horrible how the girls are sold, but at the same time the Matron does seem to care for the girls. She makes sure they grow up in the right house and the buyers aren’t so bad. It’s at least better than being left to die, because there is a two-child policy and a lot of girls are cast away. I liked how every house could be identified by certain specific trademarks.

Nisha was a solid character. She cares for her cats and has a strong loyalty to the people she cares for. I could connect with her and I understood her loneliness. She was sometimes not the brightest (as in: looking in all the wrong places to solve the mystery), but all the decisions she makes are made with her heart. She is a good girl and in the end, she showed her cleverness in other ways. Her past was fascinating and I loved learning more about it.

If you don't mind a slow-pace book with an interesting setting and cats, you might want to check this out.


  1. I've never heard of City of a Thousand Dolls before but your review made me want to buy it right away. The concept of the city and the various houses does sound fascinating (hmm, wonder which house I'll be in, LOL) and I can't wait to read about them soon.

    Great review! :)

  2. Well, I'd already hear about most of the things you warned about here: the slower pace and the lighter fantasy influences, but it was good to get a reminder since Amazon FINALLY shipped this one over to me yesterday. (hoping it gets here soon!!) I'm a HUGE cat person so really that bit was a big draw for me, not going to lie! That city and it's various houses does seem really brilliant!! Can't wait to get into this one :D Thanks for another lovely review Mel ♥

  3. Cats? *perks up* I love cats. Actually, I love it when there is an animal companion/friend in a story. I was undecided about reading 'City of a thousand dolls' because I heard it's slow-paced, but I think cats tipped the scale in it's favor. :)
    Great review.

  4. I haven't heard about this book before, but it sounds really interesting.
    I am not a fan of cats-or most animals for that matter-but I love slow paced stories with well crafted characters and world, so maybe I should give this one a try.

  5. Aw, yay. <3 Amazing review Mel. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book a lot :D Now I'm more excited about reading it. Hopefully soonish, as I own it, and have pre-ordered book two ;p And I do love cats, hih. And it sounds all kinds of awesome. The covers are just stunning. Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  6. WOW - I was just browsing through & stumbled upon your lovely blog - It looks gorgeous and it has interesting posts that I can relate to! - Def. checking out these new reads! I'm now following you via gfc, Hope you check out my blog? keep in touch love x

    Benish | Feminist Reflections
    A Thousand Pieces of You Hardcover Giveaway

  7. Haha, cats. And I don't mind slow paced books as long as there's still content that's worth reading. *stares at the cover* And that cover is just so pretty. *sighs* The plot sounds really intriguing too.

  8. Thanks for sharing, Mel! I've heard mixed things about this one so I didn't think I'd ever pick it up. But the cover is so gorgeous and the synopsis is intriguing. Personally I'm not a cat girl, but I love it when characters have relationships with animals. I'm glad you ended up liking it. :) Lovely review!

  9. sigh, slow paced - which means it'll be awhile before i can amp myself up to read it given my current funk. I did just buy it from Bookoutlet though last month =)

  10. You know, I've tried to listen to this one twice but I had a hard time both times so I stopped and decided to try again later. My problem, I think, is that I have a hard time distinguishing between cat and human in the audiobook! I really want to be able to give this one a fair chance, so I decided to wait a while and try again with a print copy or an ebook. People seem to really like it and the cover is so awesome!

  11. Haven't seen any reviews for this one, but I've been wanting to read it. Glad you liked it!

  12. I read this awhile ago and it didn't leave that much of an impression on me, but recently seeing some strong reviews for it makes me want to go back and give it another shot. Maybe it was the mood I was in? Or my expectations? I'm going to go peek at your review for the sequel...


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