City of a Thousand Dolls ; Miriam Forester
Keywords: Asian Culture, Caste System; Cats; Little Romance; Murder Mystery
The City of a Thousand Dolls was created as a haven for girls tossed aside due to the Two-Child Rule of the empire. Within its walls, girls from any caste can rise above their station through lessons at the different Houses. Nisha is not a girl from the houses but serves the head Matron directly as her spy. She has friends in all the different houses and has the unique ability to talk to the city’s cats.
When a girl from the House of Pleasure is found dead, Nisha suspects foul play. Another murder forces Nisha to uncover the murder at the risk of her own life. She discovers the killer is someone she called a friend. Nisha also discovers why she can talk to the cats, and why her parents abandoned her in the first place.
This book was an interesting commentary on how girls are cast aside as children but valued as adults for their feminine abilities. There was little to medium romance as Nisha had a suiter at the beginning of the book but he only appears for 4-ish scenes before the big finale. Lots of details of Japanese culture similar to that of Memoirs of a Geisha. In retrospect, I think it Asian theme I keep finding has less to do with the culture and more to do with society as a whole idea of an ideal woman.
The book had a nice overall pace with a well-thought-through world. The villain of the story was obvious and the end-rescue-scene a bit too on the nose in terms of foreshadowing. But a good read for a stand-alone novel.