Thursday, January 26, 2023

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim - OPTIONAL

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim, 464 pages. Delacorte Press, 2023. $20.

Language: R (27 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Sahirans keep to themselves in the desert, protecting their magic and their people from the monsters in the surrounding area and the people beyond. Imani (17yo) is part of the Shields, like her older brother before he went missing a year ago. She’s given up on him for dead, but Amira hasn’t. And Amira might be right after all.

I had a difficult time reading Imani’s story because Imani felt more like an antagonist than a protagonist – she’s arrogant and selfish. When Imani went on her mission, she faced obstacles that continually cut her down, which meant I was watching an unlikable character fail over and over again. I didn’t find any enjoyment in that. Eventually, Imani started to change due to her character arc, but she still made choices I couldn’t relate with. I started enjoying the book three-fourths of the way in, but I can’t decide whether or not I’m willing to read a sequel. The magic system is cool, and it seems like there will be more of it to come; that’s the biggest draw for me.

The majority of characters, including Imani and her family and Taha, are either described as having “tawny” or “brown” skin or else are implied so. When white characters are introduced, it’s as outsiders. The mature content rating is for partial nudity, mentions of alcohol, and sexual assault. The violence rating is for weapon use, mention of suicide, fantasy violence, hanging, mentions of murder, and descriptions of corpses.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

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