Alizeh, the heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom, is forced to work as a servant in the human world. When a boy attempts to rob her at knifepoint and she escapes, she draws the attention of the crown prince, Kamran, who believes she may be a spy. Kamran is next in line for the throne and working hard for the approval of his grandfather. When Alizeh and Kamran’s worlds collide, they find themselves drawn to each other even as they end up on different sides of a larger fight that could change the fate of the world.
I thought this was a solid start to a series with sympathetic characters and captivating world building. I really liked Alizeh, I thought she was strong and brave while also being incredibly kind, even as the world is exponentially cruel to her. She lost both of her parents and is forced to work as a servant in a house with an abusive manager who works her to the bone. When the boy tries to rob her, she invites him to come back to her home for food. I was really taken by the easy way she made connections with anyone she met and her quiet resilience.
Personally, I thought Kamran was less likable. He’s struggling under the weight of his grandfather’s expectations, but he blindly follows orders and complains often. Because I did not really have a connection with Kamran, I was not invested in his and Alizeh’s romance at all. I thought it was very insta-love and not believable. Other reviews I’ve read seem to like the romance, though.
The world building was very compelling, interwoven with fascinating history of the jinn and the clay. The world is richly laid out with lush, poetic prose. The novel definitely has a slow start, but it gradually picks up the pace leading to an explosive ending that had me anxious for the next installment. There were a few confusing elements, but I think they’ll be more fully explored in the next book.
CW: graphic injuries, attempted suicide, death