“For one wild second all I could see was the stars and all I could think of was the foolishness of immortal things who’d never seen death and so didn’t know to fear it.”
Where do I begin with this book. This book was everything. This book HAD everything.
The story follows Amani, a young girl living in a dead-end down in the desert country of Miraji, who longs to escape the oppression of her home. When a chance encounter with a stranger provides just the opportunity, Amani takes off to explore the desert and head to the capital city Izman, to build a new life.
I loved Amani’s character. She’s quick-thinking, empathetic and filled with razor-sharp wit, but she’s also flawed and makes mistakes that she regrets. The best part is she’s keenly aware of those flaws and mistakes and strives to learn from them and become a better person. I felt SO invested in her story, and I think a large part of this was down to the writing.
My goodness. Alwyn Hamilton knows how to write a story. The plot was invigorating and the writing style was graceful and dramatic, and managed to convey in detail each of Amani’s emotions as she was feeling them. The world-building gives us rich images of a desert world, blistering with heat and filled with never-ending sand. And the magic system. Oh the magic system. It was excellent. Hamilton gives us a fantastical, imaginative take on Djinni magic and mythological creatures, weaving each element seamlessly into the plot.
The relationships between different characters were intricate and complex, and despite the large number of new characters introduced towards the end of the novel, I never felt like any of them were left underdeveloped. The scorching quips between Jin and Amani was another high point that had me chuckling out loud; I also liked their ability to constantly find one another across the desert, even when one of them didn’t want to be found.
While there were certain sub-plots I saw coming, the biggest twist in the story had me grabbing the book in shock and trying (failing) not to shriek. Everything about this book was thrilling and if I hadn’t set it aside for a little while to complete TBRTakedown 4.0, I would have pretty much finished it in two days.
So if you’re after desert magic, adventure and a girl who can shoot a bottle from fifty yards, then this is your book.