This book was on my radar for a while, but I kept putting it off for a few reasons: first, I wanted to wait until the second book came out so that I could just continue right on if I loved it. The second reason is because I do this thing where I don’t read books I know that I’ll love out of fear that they won’t live up to my expectations. Strange, I know. But it’s a horrible habit of mine that I’m working hard to break!
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…
When I went to mark this as read on Goodreads, I was so surprised to find that this was actually a debut novel! It definitely reads like someone who has many books under their belt, and was ridiculously enjoyable. The descriptions of Cairo and Daevabad were so absolutely gorgeous and I felt like I was really in those places, seeing what Nahri is seeing. It is so obvious that the author knows a ton about the Middle East, from the cultures to the foods and cities, and it’s fantastic reading something written by someone who is so obviously passionate about this area of the world. Personally, I know very little about 18th century Cairo, but I feel like after reading this book, I have a better understanding. I’ve also seen other reviews that say that this is pretty good Muslim rep as well.
When we meet Nahri she is a thief in 18th century Cairo with an unusual ability – she can heal not just herself, but other people’s injuries almost instantly. Soon her abilities lead her to the handsome yet dangerous djinn warrior Dara. They then go off on a journey to the Djinn city of Daevabad. Nahri is one of those characters that is written to be real. Not a stereotype, her personality isn’t all one thing. She’s tough yet vulnerable, and extremely smart but sometimes lets her feelings cloud her judgement.
There is quite a lot of travel in this book so if that is something that you don’t enjoy, keep that in mind. However, just because more than half the book is travel, it is by no means boring or slow. They run into so many troubles along the way, and even when they reach the safety of Daevabad, they still end up getting into trouble!
This is a multi-perspective book, with the other POV being Prince Ali within Daevabad. Honestly, I didn’t think his chapters were as interesting, but we do get a lot of information about the city of Daevabad and the djinn that live there, as well as a lot about this history of this hidden world. Ali quickly learned that not everything is black and white, but he never really changed his thoughts or opinions. While I did like his character, he and his family annoyed me from time to time.
There is so much going on within this world and we’ve only got bits and pieces so far, but enough that you can tell that the bigger picture and the different parts will eventually come together, and that is one thing I really love in books. It’s so much fun trying to put all the pieces together as the book progresses, and I’m sure we will get even more answers (and questions) in the second book!
If you are looking for a gorgeous setting, realistic and loveable characters, magic and myths galore, I highly recommend checking this series out because I promise you won’t forget it!