Author: Miriam Forster.
Published: November 4th 2014 by Harper Teen
Sort: Bhinian Empire #2.
Review part 1: City of a thousand dolls.
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher.
Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her—a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire’s capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could’ve imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home. Mara knew her life in the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?
Mara is thrown out of her Suri-clan. She decides to live in her human appearance and she joins the Order of Khatar – where she will be trained to become a bodyguard. We also get to see the story of Emir, whose father is the leader of the Kilrids and he want Emir to become the new leader. There is one problem: Emir’s brother Stefan. He feels undervalued and their father is harsh on him. When Stefan runs away, Emir fears for his brother's life and he goes after him.
I loved how the chapters switch between Mara/Emir and how their stories meet. It gives us the ability to connect with both characters and to understand their choices. I was fascinated by Mara’s background story and how we see glimpses of her life before she took the decision to live her life as a human. She was strong, mentally and physically, and I like her loyalty to Revathi. It’s clear these two grow to each other and their friendship was amazing. Emir was also a good character. I approve of his loyalty towards his family and that he finally stood up against his father.
It was a shame that the romance had a slight touch of insta-love. I really liked Emir and Mara together. They seem to complete each other flaws and he supports her when she needs him the most. At the same time I understand why Miriam choose to write the romance like this. The story is more focused on the plot and that's why the romance felt a bit rushed. At least there was enough chemistry to make it acceptable enough. I also appreciate that Mara never threw everything away. You often have stories where best friends disappear when a guy comes into view; Mara is still ready to give everything up for Revathi, even if that means she has to stay away from Emir.
It’s nice how this book ties in with City of a thousand dolls. Sometimes I dislike it when a prequel story is published as sequel, but it worked really well here. All the questions from City of a thousand dolls are finally answered and this creates a very strong connection between these books. I still feel a bit unsatisfied and that's why I hope this ends up being a trilogy instead of the planned duology. It's not that there is an open ending, but I have a feeling there is even more to the story.