Author: City of a thousand dolls.
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.
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.