November 8, 2017
Ara is the daughter of Sultan Mohammed the Sixth, ruler of Granada. A willful girl, she chafes under the restriction placed upon a Muslim girl in the society of the time, especially those applying to the daughter of a ruler. When a series of misfortunes—which Ara suspects are caused by magic—plagues Granada’s trade, and exposes it to possible invasion by its greedy neighbors, Ara and her cousin, Layla, are sent to Africa on a trade mission to reverse the kingdom’s fortunes. Fatima, the sultan’s elder wife, is sent along as chaperone, and they are joined by Tahirah, a Sufi mathemagician, and Suleiman, the court’s senior eunuch. Thomas, the son of an Italian trader, is also sent with them. Thomas, like Ara, has seen the magic, which they learn is coming from a young jinn, who has passed from his realm to the realm of the humans, and for unknown reasons is creating havoc.
The story unfolds as they journey from Granada, with a series of mishaps, magical and mercenary, and Ara, with the help of Tahirah, Layla, and Thomas, confront the jinn. In the process, each learns about themselves and the power of magic, and are transformed, to emerge whole at the end, as they confront the awesome power of the efrit jinni.
The plot is well laid out, with seemingly unrelated events tied together at the end. Readers who have enjoyed The Arabian Nights or The Adventures of Aladdin will find a number of implicit references in this story, and will be pulled into the narrative as it unfolds. The characters are all well developed, and their growth as the story progresses is logical and well-explained.
The book was fairly well edited, with only a minimal number of typos or formatting issues in the electronic version.
I give this book four stars.