City Of A Thousand Dolls | Miriam Forster | Book Review

Straight up, I will always read books that have girls on the cover between two giant lion statues holding weapons. ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Sometimes this is a bad life choice, but in the case of City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster, the inside pretty much exceeds the outside in terms of awesomeness. While City Of A Thousand Dolls is not quite Eon: Dragoneye Reborn calibre, it is very, very good. Nisha, the main character, has this pretty awesome coming of age where she learns secrets and must seize her freedom and her future in this Asian-inspired fantasy. FYI, I cannot really say anything about cultural authenticity as regarding this book because well, I am not an expert by any means.

City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster | Good Books & Good Wine

Nisha lives in the City Of A Thousand Dolls where the girls live in different Houses – like Harry Potter – and get trained to be valuable servants and wives. As Nisha arrived at the City at the age of six, she was too old to train at a specific house, thus she acts as a go-between for Matron, and also her assistant. She has plenty of friends, but none so close as the pack of wild cats that live on the grounds — FYI they speak to each other using telepathy. With the Redeeming, a ceremony where the girls are able to be Claimed for a price, Nisha is hopeful that her secret boyfriend will Claim her. Only, there’s one problem, MURDER. Yo, that’s right. There’s a rash of murders in the City Of A Thousand Dolls, Nisha takes it upon herself to investigate the murders.

Let’s be real for a second here, you guys know my proclivities when it comes to protagonists. SO OF COURSE you know that I loved City Of A Thousand Dolls‘ main character. Nisha is wonderful. Like, she comes off as kind of awkward because she has not really been trained in the houses. Despite her setbacks, she still manages to kick ass. Word. SHE IS KICK ASS. I mean, she puts herself at risk to save the other girls and to be a loyal friend. The killer could seriously be anyone and Nisha is all, whatevs, who cares, I am going to FIND THEM. Also, she spars a lot and I pretty much love those bits, it’s not like a battle, but training and to me that is awesome.If you like heroines who are allowed to be vulnerable and have feelings and doubts and make mistakes, you’ll love Nisha probably as much as I did.

Because I am an expert when it comes to literary terms, I figure I’d be remiss if I didn’t prattle on a little bit about the world building. You guys! This book is nothing like Harry Potter or Graceling, so get that out of your head now. Like I mentioned above, there are houses that train girls and give them purpose. You see, the Empire has a two child policy, which is you faintly reminiscent of today. Of course, girls aren’t valuable because they can’t inherit. Anyways, these girls come to City Of A Thousand Dolls and are placed in houses that best suit their personality and skills. I thought this was an interesting way of addressing that issue, and well, it sucks that women are chattel, but no worries THIS IS ADDRESSED. Also? Sidebar: I’d like to read a book on these policies where it’s the boys who aren’t valuable and the girls are the ones people keep. Anyways. There are also the cats who play a huge role. While I am not quite a cat person, I did think the wild cat tribe was quite awesome, especially Jerrit, and you’ll see why when you read, but hey these cats are as loyal as DOGS. WHAT I KNOW. OH and City Of A Thousand Dolls makes use of a caste system, which of course being weird as hell, I found fascinating.

I actually really liked Miriam Forster’s writing style. While it’s not highlight every other page writing, it is the sort of book I like during this time of year. It’s a fantasy that doesn’t take me 1000 pages just to be able to picture the setting. Instead, I felt a strong sense of place — with the city and the forest that surrounds it. I thought she did a great job making Nisha likable and interesting — and not some weird misfit. The pacing is good with this book, granted it took me about 100 pages to really be totally hooked in that can’t put it down sort of way.

Yes. There is romance in City Of A Thousand Dolls, but it’s subtle. Like, less than 30 pages probably deal with swoon time. I liked that. I liked that it was a book that focused on how kick ass Nisha was and how she’d solve her dilemma instead of the focus being on some dark mysterious stranger who would save them all. Obviously, if you want a big and grand sweeping romance this is not the book for you. But if you want fantasy with just a hint of kissing, you’ll like this, I hope.

FINALLY! I need to tell you guys about the ending, but without spoiling you. There is NO cliffhanger. Like there is an actual ending, one that I was like okay I am satisfied, I can close this and not feel the ending is a money grab on the part of the author to sell a sequel. I felt the ending was perfect for the story and solved loose ends. At this point I am not sure if there’s a sequel, I think Twitter told me there was. AND YOU GUYS I am okay with that. I am okay with a sequel because I feel like I’m not being held hostage with information/plot resolutions to read it. Nope, every thread basically gets resolved which yay, I love it when I feel a book has paid off my time investment. In all, I totally recommend City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster if you are a cat person, down for kick ass characters and like your social structures interesting.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other reviews of City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster:

Candace’s Book Blog – “I really have a lot of mixed feelings.

Hobbitsies – “Miriam Forster is basically a master world-builder

Recovering Potter Addict – “I had FUN reading it and isn’t that the most important thing

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I LOVE A KICK-ASS CHARACTER! Knew this book would rock and that the cover wouldn’t let me down. I’m moving this up my TBR list. No longer will it be staring at me from beneath a towering pile. Up to the top, baybee!

  2. I loved this one too. And the ending was amazing! From what I understand, I think we are getting a companion book, maybe not a true sequel. Either way, I want more Jeritt.

  3. I’m almost done City of a Thousand Dolls and I’m loving it. Nisha is completely awesome, and I agree – the writing and worldbuilding really lets you visual the setting well. I’m SO glad the cover pulled me in to read the synopsis (it reminds me of The Neverending Story =P).

    • Cait, I am glad to hear you’re loving City Of A Thousand Dolls. I definitely think the worldbuilding is fantastic for visualizing the City and the houses and the forest.

      I can definitely see The Neverending Story cover here. <3

  4. Gah! Reviews for this one have all been like four star or one star, and I don’t even know what to do with that. So, I am glad you liked it first of all, but I’m thinking maybe not for me. The writing didn’t sound like my thing, and I think I tend to like my fantasy fairly ornate.

    Bahahaha “a hint of kissing.” I’m trying to figure out what that would entail if I read it literally.

    Yes, I am weird.

    • It can be kind of confusing — the mixed reviews. Yeah, I don’t really honestly think you’d like City Of A Thousand Dolls. It’s just not you, ya know?

      Well, like there’s not a ton of romance, like there’s a scene or two with kissing but nothing that’s super intense.

      I think we’re all weird here.

  5. Okay first, the girl standing between two statues keeps reminding me of THE NEVER ENDING STORY. Don’t they have to pass through some figures at some point? And maybe they’ll blow you to pieces if you do it wrong? Am I making that up? Anyway, this book sounds fantastic. The setting and system of houses sounds really interesting. I love cats, tho I’m not sure I quite understand the pack of wild cats part. They are actual cats? Not humans as cats? Anyway, I love love a slow subtle romance. When it simmers it’s my favorite. And an actual ending without a cliffhanger? Sign me up!

    • I don’t remember much of The Never Ending Story, which I guess means that I really need to reread it, so I couldn’t tell you if you are making this up.

      I can’t tell you much about the wild cats because I don’t want to spoil anything.

      Yeah, no cliffhanger, it is AMAZING. Like, that’s a rare beast these days it seems.

  6. APRIL! Your review has made me so excited for this book! I had a feeling it would be good but it sounds GREAT!! And while I do love my full on swoony romances, I don’t mind when they’re subtle either, like in The Scorpio Races. Awesome review!

  7. How many books with girls between two lions on the covers do you know of???

    Also, super excited to read this because Asian culture is fascinating and it is great to see that represented in YA!

    • To be honest, not very many hahahaha.

      Yes! It is exciting when YA goes beyond normative mode and has main characters of color — especially in something different from a contemporary issues book or a historical fiction.

  8. Hahaha, this review was so funny, April! And I’m so glad you liked this book–it’s one of my most anticipated 2013 debuts, but I keep hearing negative or so-so feedback from this. I definitely like that there isn’t a cliffhanger and that it isn’t a long-winded fantasy type. Yay, I’m excited again!

    • I try quite hard to be funny, good to see it’s working.

      City Of A Thousand Dolls is either a book you love, or a book you hate. I fell on the love side of it. And yes, the lack of a cliffhanger was a HUGE selling point for me. It’s very well done, I think.

  9. I haven’t even heard of this book before, but it sounds really cool! I like the concept of living in different houses and being trained for different duties. Kinda interesting! And it’s a huge selling point that the ending isn’t a cliffhanger. I’m so tired of series where every book ends in a way that forces you to read the next one. Don’t get me wrong, I usually do want to finish the series. But I also like that feeling of resolution at the end of a book, too.

    • That is the most annoying thing ever to me, cliffhangers. Like, I just prefer books to be self contained and able to stand alone, ya know? Ah, well.

      The different houses thing is actually really interesting and adds a fascinating dimension to Forster’s world building.

  10. bookrockbetty says

    Love the cover…. and love the title even more!! I must admit it worries me when reviews tell me there is only a hint of romance, but lately I’ve been learning that some books are so amazing they don’t even need it. This sounds like a good one!!

    • I can see that worry. I would say though, that the hint of romance is good because it doesn’t overwhelm the plot or turn it into some sappy story, and when it DOES get to the KISSING and the swooning, it’s actually quite good and the payoff definitely works.

  11. Hey April! Thanks for this review. This one’s on my list, but I’ve been waiting to see a review of it. The cover and title are so interesting, but even from the blurb it’s hard to tell what it’s really about. Now I’m way excited to read it! Thanks so much! 😀

    • Yay! I am glad to be of service that way — and yeah I kind of went into it as a blank slate and ended up really pleased with the book, so I think that’s a good thing going in not knowing entirely what the book is about.

  12. You had me at cats!

    This book really looks interesting and I plan on reading it for the Debut Author Challenge.

  13. I love the first line of this review! <3 I've been really curious about this book. I've read some not so good things about it, but your review makes me want to read it asap! I'm a cat person so…. 🙂

    • <33333

      I think that you might like it. I mean, yes there's always going to be someone who dislikes a book, but I personally really enjoyed this one. Huzzah for cat people! My sister is one of those as well and she is awesome.

  14. I have this book out from the library right now! So I didn’t read your review, I just skipped down here to say that I think this is one of my favorite covers in basically forever. AND I’m excited to be starting this one soon and I hope it is awesome.

  15. I’m super excited to read this book (and this post reminded me I need to pick up a copy soon). I love that it’s Asian-inspired, since that’s always something I think YA could use more of. And it sounds like it’s a great fantasy to me, what with the kick-ass main character, the whole awesome world that’s built up and just the idea of a mystery murderer to catch!


  1. […] 1. April @ Good Books & Good Wine says: “Straight up, I will always read books that have girls on the cover between two giant lion statues holding weapons. ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Sometimes this is a bad life choice, but in the case of City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster, the inside pretty much exceeds the outside in terms of awesomeness.” Read the full review […]