Welcome to my stop on the Spice Road book tour with TBR and Beyond Tours. (This blog tour is also posted on my Tumblr book, art, & fandom blog Whimsical Dragonette.)
TITLE: Spice Road (The Spice Road Trilogy #1)
AUTHOR: Maiya Ibrahim
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2023
GENRES: YA Fantasy
Content Warning: politics, colonialism
The first book in an epic fantasy series for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal and Elizabeth Lim, set in an Arabian-inspired land. Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, seventeen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother whose betrayal is now their greatest threat.
In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic awakens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits.
Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation’s coveted spice – a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief.
But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation’s magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city’s location. Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission.
Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes – and in her own heart – but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?
In this epic and action-packed fantasy, one young heroine navigates the treacherous road between protecting the ones you love and staying loyal to the place you call home.
Maiya Ibrahim is the debut author of SPICE ROAD, publishing January 24, 2023 from Delacorte Press and Hodder & Stoughton. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology Sydney. When she isn’t writing, reading, or spending time with her family, she enjoys video games, gardening, and expanding her collection of rare trading cards. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
She is represented by Peter Knapp of Park & Fine Literary and Media, Claire Wilson of RCW Literary, and Mary Pender-Coplan of United Talent Agency.
This book started slowly and I wasn’t convinced by Imani at first because she was naiive and self-important,and frankly a bit annoying, but wow did she grow emotionally over the course of the story. Also what started out looking like a typical love triangle turned into… something else. I’m honestly not sure what it is yet and I have no idea where it will end up, with all the twists and turns it went through in this book. The plot was also very twisty. I saw some of the twists coming, but a bunch of them surprised me. There’s also a bunch of things only beginning to be hinted at that have me very excited for the next installment.
Each of the characters is slowly revealed to have hidden depths and motivations and desires as the story progresses and it makes it very hard to know who to trust and who to let yourself get attached to. I honestly still don’t know. As this is book 1 of a trilogy, it will probably be a while before I find out. But that’s ok — I’m here for the journey.
The setting is very intriguing, with Imani’s kingdom hidden from the outside world for centuries — and the outside world hidden from it. The magic is also very cool. I like that it’s tea-based and has to be replenished daily. All the hints about the desert “monsters” also add up to what will hopefully be a very promising twist later on.
I love the emphasis on family bonds and also the emphasis on how important it is to help those in need even if they aren’t of your family or clan or even kingdom.
The plot barrels along once it gets started — I was completely hooked by about 20-25% — and is constantly throwing new things at you and pulling the sand from beneath your feet. I approve. It was a lot of fun, I was very engrossed, and I know this trilogy is going to be a favorite.
*Thanks to NetGalley, Random House Children’s: Delacorte Press, and TBR and Beyond Tours for proividing an early copy for review.
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