Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by Corgi Childrens on October 9th 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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A jinni of tremendous ancient power and Empress to Arjinna, Nalia was sold into slavery on the dark caravan, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their masters’ every command. She’d do anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.
Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother.
But freedom comes at a heavy price and danger is everywhere.
Despite this book being close to 500 pages long, I finished it in less than a day because I just could not put it down. I was so captivated by the world and the characters that I was just constantly thinking about the book.
The first thing I noticed about this novel, which really surprised me, was the urban fantasy setting. I mean, the blurb does mention ‘Hollywood’ but for some reason it didn’t register that it was going to be set in Hollywood. I was expecting an Arabian or medieval kind of fantasy setting, but was really pleasantly surprised to find it set in America. Of course, the main character, Nalia, actually comes from the world of Arjinna but is currently trapped as a slave on Earth. There were lots of great descriptions of Arjinna and I thought that that world was built really nicely throughout the book, but the story has yet to take us away from Earth. I enjoyed finding out all the similarities and differences between Arjinna and Earth and I can’t wait to actually be taken to Arjinna and discover more about that world.
Nalia stiffened, forgetting for a moment that on Earth, a wink was a friendly gesture. In Arjinna, it was a death threat.
I really enjoyed the tone of the book. It was very funny at times and I found myself laughing out loud at some of the things that Nalia said and did. I thought that the writing was very easy to read and I just flew through the book, despite it being such a big book. The pace of the book is quite slow and there’s nothing much that actually happens. It doesn’t have a plot that’s super spectacular or full of action on every page. We follow Nalia as she tries to gain freedom away from her master as well as try to hide from enemies who are searching for her, but the majority of the book was more like a setup for the rest of the series. I didn’t mind the lack of action much because I enjoyed all the world building that we got and the characters were just so great to read about and be around.
I loved Nalia as a main character. She’s not my favourite female fantasy protagonist but she was just the right amount of sassy, funny and confident. She’s the former Empress of Arjinna and comes from the highest caste of jinn, meaning that she’s able to draw on all of the elements and is the most powerful of all the jinn (and would be even more powerful if she wasn’t sold as a slave and trapped on Earth). And she’s not afraid to let others know it. I also really enjoyed Raif, who is a Djan and comes from the lowest caste. He’s the leader of the revolution in Arjinna and despises Nalia because of how her caste oppressed the others… except he needs her help to win the revolution. What I loved most about Raif and found really funny was that he wasn’t very good at magic. The Djan are the serfs and have very little education, meaning that their magical skills are weaker compared to the other jinn. I really enjoyed that about him and liked that he wasn’t the all-powerful hero who could ride right in and save the day. I, surprisingly, also enjoyed Nalia’s master, Malek’s, character. I was expecting him to be the evil and cruel villain of the story but his character was complex and not what I expected at all. He was cruel but he was also in love with Nalia. Like, what?! I liked being able to see the different sides of him and thought he was a really interesting character with some interesting abilities of his own. I can’t wait to see more of what he brings to the series because I still haven’t made up my mind about him yet. And finally, the actual villain of the book… I thought he was super scary. I enjoyed how he was incorporated slowly into the plot and I liked unravelling the mystery and figuring out for myself what was happening.
Lastly, I thought the magic system was really cool and interesting. It draws from Arabian and Islamic mythology, which I know very little about, and is based on elemental magic. I really loved all of their jinni abilities and how different types of jinn could do different things to greater or lesser degrees. I also appreciated that there were some rules when it came to the magic system and the wish-granting, which other books with jinn that I’ve read haven’t really had.
I really enjoyed this book a lot and am really excited to see what the rest of the series brings. It has a really intriguing world and magic system, and complex and interesting characters that I just can’t get enough of.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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