I have to be truthful and say that I’ve actually been putting off reading this one for a long time. I see it on my Kindle, and then I scroll by to read something else. As is the case with most books that I do this with, I finally read it, devoured it really, and now I need the next one immediately.
I am an absolute sucker for anything djinn/djinni related. The magic, the history, the tradition, the deserts, the fire – all of it, just inject it into my veins directly. Nahri is a street urchinesque character who cons rich nobles on the streets of Cairo with her healing/health sensing abilities. She wants to save up enough money to travel to study as a doctor when one of her money making schemes calls an ancient daeva (djinn) called Dara to her aid. Unfortunately it also calls a type of magical creature called an efrit which tries to hunt them down and kill them, so Dara helps her escape Cairo in favor of Daevabad, the City of Brass. Nahri discovers that she may be the daughter of a famous Nahid, a tribe that used to rule in the city until they were wiped out by the current rulers. Nahid are able to heal djinn/daevas, and so her abilities are used as a bargaining chip to gain sanctuary from the efrit.
There is a helluva lot of political scheming going on in this city, so if you’re into underhanded schemes steeped in historical feuds and caste systems then this is definitely going to get your motor running. There were enough plates spinning in the air at one time that I was caught off guard several times, and if you’ve read my reviews here for any length of time you know that it takes a skillful author to keep me guessing. The plot moves quickly, and it’s carefully woven with character development that allows you to grow close to and care about the players as you speed along with the story. This is the first book I’ve read in a long time that has struck a perfect balance between being plot-driven and being character-driven, and I LOVED it.
One part that really spoke to me was how Nahri came to be at home in her own power. At the beginning she uses her power to survive, then her power is used to hide and present her as something more – to survive still, sure, but it gives her access to an identity that she can use as well. By the end of the book she has taken her past in one hand and her present in the other to use as fisticuffs against her enemies to shape her future. She really loses herself there in the middle and when she finally picks herself back up and takes the reins you’ll find yourself cheering and demanding the next book in the series.
This one comes highly recommended by the book community, and by me as well. It’s the perfect mix of everything: society, magic, mystery, power – just go give it a read. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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