Thank you Hodderscape for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic awakens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits.
Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation’s coveted spice – a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief.
But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation’s magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city’s location. Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission.
Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes – and in her own heart – but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?
This book was such a fun ride! I loved Imani and Qayn but me and Taha are currently not talking. They were such interesting characters and I was completely hooked by the story from the beginning. I loved the world and the mythology that was woven into the story. The magic system was also so interesting and I am excited to learn more about it in the sequel and the history behind how Imani’s people were given the powers.
I loved the world and the desert setting with Imani’s home being magically hidden and how we see it expand once Imani learns that there is so much more out there and we get to learn with her. There is also arab folklore woven into the story and I loved seeing it from jinns to other mythical creatures and how they are part of this world. I am looking forward to seeing more of the world in the sequel.
The truth is the thorn not the rose
I really loved Imani, she is a sheltered girl who doesn’t see the struggles of those who aren’t as fortunate as her. She comes from a powerful family so she is given opportunities that others may not get or have to fight for and she doesn’t see the advantages she has been given simply for being born into her family. But over the course of the story she starts to see that not everyone is given the same opportunities. She sees how Taha and the others resent her for it and that maybe she needs to do better. It was interesting to see because both her brother and sister do see the inequalities so she also learns a lot from her younger sister too. It was great to see that she was open to learning and changing by the end of the book.
Taha is such a complex character and had me going from rooting for him to hating him. I can see where he is coming from how he has had a difficult life and an abusive father but it still frustrated me that he would change how he was towards Imani so often. I hope we get to see some redemption for him in the sequel and he realises that he can choose his own path.
Qayn was probably my favourite character and I absolutely need more of him in the sequel and his backstory. We get to see some of it in this book and I am intrigued and I would read a whole book of his backstory. He is funny and chaotic and there is so much more to him than he shows us and Imani and how he is helping Imani.
Light not shared is light diminished
This book also has discussions on helping those who are being oppressed and whether it is not okay for powerful nations who aren’t affected to ignore what is happening and just protect themselves. We see the differing perspectives from the different characters and i really liked how the discussion was written into the story.
This is a fun story with lots of adventure and chaos and a great group of characters and I am so excited for the sequel!