City of a Thousand Dolls

City of a Thousand Dolls

4.2 7
by Miriam Forster
     
 

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The girl with no past—and no future—may be the only one who can save their lives.

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 remote estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her

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Overview

The girl with no past—and no future—may be the only one who can save their lives.

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 remote estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, never letting herself imagine a life outside the walls . . . until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Readers who flock to lush, romantic fantasies like the Graceling series and Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound books will be won over by Nisha and her poignant, emotional journey through the captivating world of City of a Thousand Dolls.

Extras included in the paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forster makes a strong debut with a fresh South Asian�inspired fantasy/mystery crossover. Abandoned as a child, 16-year-old Nisha Arvi has grown up within the private walled estate known as the City of a Thousand Dolls. There, orphaned or unwanted girls are raised in six specialized houses to be wives, courtesans, artists, entertainers, healers, or soldiers. As Matron’s assistant, Nisha isn’t part of any House, but she dreams of being Redeemed from the city by a handsome young man. Just as her wish seems within reach, the deaths of several girls make Nisha a valuable pawn, now destined to be sold as a slave. With time running out, Nisha tries to find out what happened to the girls, uncovering her own lost past along the way. Set in a magically isolated Empire with a strict caste system, a two-child limit, and telepathic cats, Forster’s well-crafted story and confident prose are rich, packed with small details that immerse readers in her sumptuously imagined world. The ending has a touch of deus ex machina, but readers will gladly follow Forster into a presumed sequel. Ages 13�up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Agency. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid but uneven debut takes place in an Asian-blend fantasy world. The Bhinian Empire has a "two-child law." Because boys are more valued, infant girls were smothered or left for wolves until the creation of the City of a Thousand Dolls. Not a city but rather "a large private estate ringed by a high stone wall," this refuge grooms girls in one of six Houses--Flowers, Beauty, Pleasure, Combat, Jade and Music--until a man claims them as wife or mistress or until (shown less often) a healer or tradesperson selects them as apprentice. Now 16, Nisha has been here since age 6. Her unknown parentage and unique status (working as "Matron's shadow" rather than training in a House) render her a predictable fantasy archetype. When girls begin turning up dead, Nisha pursues the truth--accidents? murders? suicides?--hoping to circumvent the Council's plan to sell her and ruin her chance for freedom. Although Forster supplies twists and mystery, moments of revelation are somewhat lackluster. A romance thread targets readers older than those who'll be riveted by Nisha's special relationship with wild cats. (Bizarrely, those two themes eventually converge.) Moreover, Bhinian culture is a troublingly arbitrary amalgam of South Asian and East Asian details--jeera puffs and mukhwas, tea ceremonies and fan dancing, names like Akash tar'Vey or Lotus Emperor. Memorable but bumpy. (Fantasy. 11-15)
Cinda Williams Chima
“A fantastical murder mystery with a creative premise, heart-pounding pacing, and characters with secrets to keep.”
Cindy Pon
“With fantastic world building and a wonderful heroine, City of a Thousand Dolls intrigued me from the first page.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The mystery here is a fine one, and the concept of the City is well executed. As Nisha must choose between remaining within the cloistered safety of the City or taking her chances with the outside world, her dilemma will be familiar to teens looking toward adulthood.”
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—The two-child law has existed in the Bhinian Empire since the Second Lotus Emperor restored order. Since then, abandoned infant girls have found a place in the City of a Thousand Dolls, learning skills in one of eight Houses. Nisha, 16, was left at the estate at age 6. Too old to join a House, she became the eyes and ears of the Matron, a useful skill in what is now a time of political intrigue. The home educates and grooms girls for the Redeeming, where money is paid to secure a girl as an apprentice, assistant, mistress, or wife. Each girl hopes to avoid becoming a free servant, or worse, a bond slave. This debut novel imagines a world of magic, gently influenced by historical Japan, China, and India. Girls in the House of Flowers train to join the nobility; the House of Beauty emphasizes loveliness and art, the House of Pleasure is for mistresses and courtesans (girls must volunteer to train there). Healers and scholars train in the House of Jade, and somewhere on the estate exists the House of Shadows. When a girl turns up dead, Nisha and several cats (with whom she communicates telepathically) begin to investigate. There are tea ceremonies, fan dances, combat lessons, a romance with a man of a higher caste, more deaths, and a run-in with the Kildi before everything draws to a close. The plot ranges far and wide and some important characters lack development. The three pages listing dramatis personae help keep straight the eight houses, five castes, court members, sentient animals, and Kildi. However, deep descriptions of any one House or caste are sacrificed, which may frustrate some readers. Consider for larger collections or where fantasy is very popular.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062121301
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/05/2013
Pages:
359
Sales rank:
860,619
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.23(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

Cinda Williams Chima
“A fantastical murder mystery with a creative premise, heart-pounding pacing, and characters with secrets to keep.”
Cindy Pon
“With fantastic world building and a wonderful heroine, City of a Thousand Dolls intrigued me from the first page.”

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