Can two young adults maintain their own ideals amid a swirl of politics and age-old family feuds?
In 18th-century Cairo, Nahri is on the verge of saving enough to study real medicine, but for now she ekes out an existence as a con artist, healing with powers she doesn’t quite understand nor can she control. When an exorcism goes awry, she accidentally summons a djinn warrior. The djinn, Dara, introduces Nahri to a world she never thought existed, and the two begin an adventure that will lead them to the mythical city of Daevabad, where Nahri will be well-received—but Dara may not be. While Nahri and Dara fight ifrit (ghouls) and other enemies on their way, Daevabad is on the verge of crisis. Within the city, Prince Ali funds a fundamentalist djinn faction without his father’s approval. These two strands converge when Nahri enters the city and Ali’s royal family and their enemies attempt to use Nahri’s miraculous arrival to their advantage.
With this rich and layered novel, S.A. Chakraborty builds a fantasy world as intricate and intriguing as its Middle Eastern setting. Following the various subplots is like pondering vibrant Arabic design; readers will lose themselves in the wonder and complexity. A helpful glossary in the back of the book defines djinn terms and helps readers keep track of six djinn kingdoms that were divided and set at odds by a long-ago ruler.
Chakraborty ends the novel without a simple resolution, which will no doubt lead deftly into the next book in this planned trilogy about a marvelous civilization built on strategy and tenuous allegiances, at the helm of which stand courageous and cunning heroines such as Nahri and brilliant, fierce heroes like Dara and Ali.
This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.