City of a Thousand Dolls
by Miriam Forster
The Bhinian Empire, book one
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. 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. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, 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.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls' deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life. (Description from Amazon.com)
I really enjoyed this book. Forster introduces a new world where the eastern influences of our Asian cultures are highly evident but the fact that the world is also completely cut off from anywhere else gives it its own unique presence. There also used to be magic in this world, though it has now disappeared...
Nisha is an interesting main character. While there were moments that I grew somewhat frustrated because she could not see what was happening when I had already figured things out, I have to give her credit for her reactions once she did. This is not a girl to take things lying down. She refuses to let others decide her life. She is gutsy, bold, independent, and her stubbornness and loyalty take her a long way. She also has a strict sense of right and wrong that I highly admire. I cannot wait to see where the second book in the series will take her.
The audio book is well paced and read in such a way that I could not wait to get back into the car each day to discover new layers of this world and to be pulled deeper into the mystery surrounding Nisha and the City of a Thousand Dolls.
Full disclosure: Audio book received from SLJ for review