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City of a Thousand Dolls

(Bhinian Empire #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,182 ratings  ·  686 reviews
An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rum
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Harper Teen
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Author-ization So far there are only two books in the series, but perhaps the author is planning a third. :)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  5,182 ratings  ·  686 reviews

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Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of juvenile fantasy
Shelves: fantasy, 2013, ya
As seen on The Readventurer

My first read of 2013 and, well, my advice is - skip it. I finished it so you don't have to. It is sad mostly because City of a Thousand Dolls is written so earnestly and with such good intentions. You can tell that the author meant this novel to be about diverse characters and diverse cultures. Too bad it's just not that great of a novel. It is simply lacking in sophistication and maturity.

City of a Thousand Dolls is another Asian-inspired fantasy which I would advise
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Girl hangs out with cats, solves mysteries and kicks ass. Me gusta.
To be quite honest, I'm not entirely sure what urged me to read City of a Thousand Dolls the day it was released, or even at all. I'm not, and most likely never will be, a high fantasy fan, and usually steer clear of high fantasies in general, unless they've received positive reviews from many friends of mine. City of a Thousand Dolls did not receive very many positive reviews from friends of mine, so in retrospect, I honestly have no clue as to why I picked this one up. I suppose I was intrigue ...more
Julianna Helms
May 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of THE SELECTION and cardboard-cutout plots
Recommended to Julianna by: meselfz.

Original will be posted on my blog on January 10th, 2013, here. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)

I'm going to try really, really hard to make this review as gentle as I can let it be. But make no mistake: I did not, at all, like this book.

Let's just discard some misinformation first. That first line in the summary? "An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-sto
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
For me at least, City of a Thousand Dolls is a cautionary tale in style versus substance. Stylistically, this is a book that hits all the right notes - it’s rich and inviting and takes inspirations from several different Asian cultures to create a rather unique reading experience; it’s certainly not a book that lacks for world building. Yet at the same time, substantively, I really don’t feel the actual story lives up to the setting; behind the exotic fashions, the politicking, and the courtesan ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, dystopian, blurbs
A fantastical murder mystery with a creative premise, heart-pounding pacing, and characters with secrets to keep.
Enriched with cultural details and patterned with vibrant descriptions, City of Thousand Dolls was an exotic fantastical story mingled with murder, mystery and ancient cults.

An isolated estate that gave refuge to orphan girl, abandoned after birth, and trains them in various arts such as music, dancing, combat etc. Sixteen years Nisha never belonged to any one particular house, making her way as Matron’s assistant. But when she began flirting with a handsome young courier, she dared to dream abo
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Miriam Forster's debut novel is glorious. Nisha is a resident of the City of a Thousand Dolls. The city is a walled-off district for unwanted female babies, where they are raised to be skilled members of society then sold to be wives, mistresses, apprentices, and more. It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than exposure - so says the Matron, Nisha's mistress.

Nisha is more unwanted than most. She came to the city not as a baby, but a child. She has no caste. The Matron took her on as an as
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
I don't get it...this book is quite good and yet, it's not that popular? Well, it's not perfect BUT IT'S GOOD! I still remember adding City of A Thousand Dolls to my TBR in 2012, really looking forward to read it once it comes out. But then it kinda got lost in the sea of other YA new releases in 2013 and the early reviews are not that promising (even now the average rating is 3.7?). So, I lost interest back then.

But dang! I should know better than to trust the rating solely because (hate to be
Princess Bookie
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
My Thoughts: This was so different.

We are introduced to Nisha who lives in a little area called City Of A Thousand Dolls. It’s basically a small community where girls live who can be bought and who are trained in different areas.

Right from the get go, I knew this one would be unique. She can talk to cats. How awesome is that? She understands them, they understand her, how cool!

She is also seeing a young man who just happens to be royalty. She wants him to choose her as his wife.

Girls start dyin
I think perhaps 4 1/2 stars for Miriam Forster's City of a Thousand Dolls.

It is a few days before the Redeeming and sixteen year old Nisha Arvi hopes fervently that the dashing noble Devan tar'Vey will speak for her but then girls begin to die within the City of the Thousand Dolls. With the help of her spotted-cat friends, Nisha must find the killer if she is to hope for a future. In the Bhinian Empire, a realm cut off from the rest of the world by a catastrophic magical apocalypse , unwanted g
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So I finally finish reading this book Yesterday.. Or we this moring cuz I got stuck in it and actually finished it around 05 this morning/night xD This will also be quiet long review so lets get started!!

First of all I has to say that this is diffently one of my favorite books! I love it!!

Soo this is and world where girls is not wanted as much as boys because of a two children rule in the land. Then there is this city where the girls get trained to be wives and misstresses(?).

I love the main c
Gabrielle Carolina
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I don't think I've ever been so disappointed. I thought for sure CITY would be amazing, that it would be a favorite of the year full of intriguing characters, luscious world building and fabulous fantasy plot threads.

Not so and I am sad, so regrettably sad to say it.

I DNF this one; by page 65 I felt I knew where the story was going, or better yet, where it wasn't going.

The narrator's voice was way too immature, and not in the way where you expect the MC to be set on a path of great growth, but
usagi ☆ミ
You know, you'd never think that high fantasy and a murder mystery would go together very well. In "City of a Thousand Dolls", Miriam Forester very successfully combines both elements of those genres to create an awesome high fantasy jaunt with talking cats, mysterious deaths, wandering nobles and girls being trained in special houses. If you liked "Grave Mercy", "Shadow and Bone", "Girl of Fire and Thorns" and/or "Graceling", I'm pretty sure you're going to love "City of a Thousand Dolls". I kn ...more
Dark Faerie Tales
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: A girl who’s an outcast discovers her heritage while also trying to solve a murder mystery inside the City of a Thousand Dolls.

Opening Sentence: “Don’t move, Nisha.”

The Review:

I think the synopsis is a bit misleading. I started this book thinking it was going to be about a school that trained assassins or something to that degree, but instead, the book focused on a orphaned girl with a lot of secrets. The assassins are just a small tidbit of a
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue)
I am going to be completely honest here.  The sole reason I added this book to my TBR was because of that exquisite cover.  It's so reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood movies ever that I knew I'd read it, no matter what it was really about.  But with a gorgeous cover like that, there's little chance the book will be a big ole fail, right?

The story wasn't a failure...not really.  It only failed at being the epic fantasy novel indicated by the cover, and the author even admits as much in h
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it
‘There is more than one kind of secret… There is the secret that no one may know, the kind one kills to protect. And then there is the secret that everyone may know, but no one will admit to knowing… Then there is the secret that everyone knows, except the person the secret is about.’

A girl with no caste, family, or fraternity has to find the criminal behind a few murders in order to escape being sold or being killed. Along the way she learns more about herself, her peers, her mentors, and t
Jun 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
i was reading this book perfectly happily until the first murder, when it, quite casually, commented that - in an empire where the author describes everyone as having "bronze, amber, or gold" skin - the pale skinned girls (apparently rare) were most highly sought after and regarded.


the book would probably merit two stars otherwise - the plot was pretty easy to guess at ((view spoiler)
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Even though at page 75-ish, I'd spoiled myself on who the killer was, it didn't make any difference! (mostly) I still quite enjoyed it and oh, how I loved the ending! This book is pretty awesome and there are so many things I liked about it (how there wasn't AS much romance, which made perfect sense here since people were DYING and stuff and how not everybody turned out to be super incredibly good (view spoiler) ...more
Mel (Daily Prophecy)

It’s very important that you go into this book with the right expectations. After some reviews I found out that this book is pitched as ‘fantasy,’ but there are not many fantasy elements. This gave me the chance to read this book for what it is: an entertaining story that made me curious for more.

Nisha has been abandoned at the gates of the City of a thousand dolls when she was eight years old. This is the place where unwanted girls grow up in order to gai
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
City of a Thousand Dolls was an engaging read, though the ending felt rushed. Whereas at first Forester hoarded clues and secrets like a squirrel with acorns, the last quarter was revelation after revelation, giving me very little time to adjust. Some of the secrets were subtly woven in, often buried beneath each new murder so that in the end I was able to look back and recognized the signs. And some became painfully obvious far too quickly.

At first I didn't understand the big deal about Nisha.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I think the driving force behind this novel was the mystery behind the killer of the girls. The other elements of the story – world building, characterization, character relationships, romance – don’t really add too much of an engaging factor to the book.

I really liked Nisha’s determination to figure out who the killer was, even if some of her hasty conclusions were wrong or misguided. I loved that she always wanted to prove the innocence of someone even when the facts were screaming otherwise.
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I own a copy of this book.)
This was an okay story, but it was really, really slow.

Nisha was a bit of a baffling character. At times she was stupid, she took ridiculous risks when she didn’t need too, and she also made some seriously suspect decisions. That being said she was also loyal (to a fault), she had faith in people (even if it was misplaced), and she liked things to be right, even if she had to sacrifice herself to try and make sure that this happened.

The storyline in this wasn
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
I really liked this book. I love how different the world is. City of a Thousand Dolls is a city where orphaned girls learn a certain trade and when they turn sixteen they can get "spoken for" by a guy (which is just a fancy way of saying sold). But when girls are starting to drop down dead it's up to the main character to figure out who is behind these unfortunate deaths. And yet somehow I'm disappointed. I felt there were so many more possibilities! But if I ignore that feeling and just look at ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
City of a Thousand Dolls was okay to start with, but quickly became boring.

Nisha was an alright character, but she made some very silly decisions.

The pacing was just too slow for me. I wanted to know what happened, but i didn't want to read another 200 (or so) pages to find out!
It picked up a bit when the killer was revealed, and i was quite surprised... but i still wasn't liking the book very much unfortunately.

Overall, slow and boring.
Aug 18, 2012 marked it as to-read



I was excited at first but all the names and terminology confused me. Then when I finally got the hang if the story I found myself in a slump of boredom. Soooo... it was just okay for me.
May 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
also posted on my website:

The summary sounds exciting but the book was disappointing. The entirely original, fantastical world doesn’t seem very original. There is an extreme class system, magic that used to be, mistreated women, and talking animals.

In Nisha’s world, there’s a two-child limit because resources are slim. People prefer boys because boys can be important and when they aren’t important, they can be apprentices. They have power and opportunity
Maureen E
[caption id="attachment_3480" align="alignleft" width="198"] Image from Miriam Forster's website Image from Miriam Forster's website[/caption]
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. 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. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a
Nicole Wang
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Jumping straight in, the one issue I really had with City of a Thousand Dolls was Nisha. She was just so annoying and naive in my opinion. She thought she knew everything about the City and acted like such a know it all! And, even though I could understand why, it was annoying when she couldn't forgive herself for something someone had done to herself. She was too impulsive for my liking and I felt myself groaning in frustration so many times. She was so...hmm...
On the other hand I loved how she
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Miriam Forster learned to read at the age of five, wrote her first story at the age of seven and has been playing with words ever since. Her debut novel, CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS is being published by HarperCollins.

In her daily life, Miriam is a wife, a terrible housekeeper and a dealer of words at the local bookshop. In her internal life, she imagines fight scenes, obsesses about anthropology, na

Other books in the series

Bhinian Empire (2 books)
  • Empire of Shadows (Bhinian Empire, #2)

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“There is the secret that no one may know, the kind one kills to protect. And then there is the secret that everyone may know, but no one will admit to knowing.” 1 likes
“Mirrors reflecting

Doubling the laughing crowd

Lies set in glass

I see no bright eyes

Peering out from this jeweled mask

I, too, am a lie”
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