Sorina is a jynx-worker living in the magic of the Gomorrah Festival – a dark, traveling carnival unlike any other. She stands out from the other Festival workers (performers, thieves, and even assassins) because despite the fact that she does not have eyes, she can create illusions. Sorina has used her unique ability to create family members of her own, including a baby who can breathe fire and a girl who is half-human and half-hawk, among others. Her family can be seen and even touched, but she never believed them to be completely real. When someone begins to murder her illusions one by one, she questions how the criminal could have killed people who weren’t even real. She must answer this question and find the murderer in order to save the rest of her family. Along the way, she meets an arrogant yet charming poison-worker named Luca. Together, they are immersed into a world of mystery and politics as they search for the killer. Throughout her journey, Sorina discovers more and more about the Festival, love, and even herself.
This novel’s plot was so compelling. From the beginning, when I was first introduced to the magic of the Gomorrah Festival, I couldn’t wait to learn more. Throughout the book, more information is revealed about Sorina, her illusions, the Festival’s other residents, and the jynx-work at the heart of it all. I thought that despite a somewhat quick ending, the novel was well-paced. There is a lot of excitement throughout, including a few interesting twists. The whole time, I found myself eager to solve the mystery of the murders. I never wanted to put this book down.
Every character was well-developed and memorable. There are so many unique characters: Sorina, her illusions, the Festival’s residents, and more. The characters are also very diverse; several races and sexualities are represented. Furthermore, most of the characters are very likable. Surprisingly, Luca was actually one of the characters I liked the least. I found his arrogance to be too extreme to overlook. While I still think he was a well-written and interesting character, I just didn’t fall in love with him. As for Sorina herself, I thought she made a wonderful main character. Because she doesn’t have eyes and can create illusions, she thinks of herself as a “freak.” She was very self-conscious overall – more so than most main characters. I found her to be very sympathetic and relatable. Her thoughts seemed to reflect the insecurities many people have and Foody very honestly conveyed Sorina’s feelings.
Foody’s world-building skills are impeccable. She included so many details and appealed to all of the reader’s senses which really brought the carnival to life. The Gomorrah Festival was also just such an intriguing setting in general. From the Menagerie to the charm-workers’ shops , it seems like the kind of place you could spend days exploring.
In addition to being an exciting and well-written story, this book was physically appealing. Not only is the cover absolutely gorgeous, but the book even contains some illustrations of Sorina’s illusions throughout its pages. These pictures were a fun addition that really help bring the characters to life and add to the mystery of the novel.
I loved Foody’s writing style and found her story to be addicting. The plot is intriguing and kept me turning pages. I fell in love with the setting of the Gomorrah Festival and its magic. As a debut author, I think she did an outstanding job. I can’t wait to read more from her in the future. This book was phenomenal.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars