October 9, 2014

Exquisite Captive - Heather Demetrios

Exquisite Captive Heather Demetrios book cover
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it? 

Heather Demetrios might have only had her debut out earlier this year, but Exquisite Captive has truly cemented her position as an author I really like and look forward to reading more from. Taking inspiration from Arabian Nights and jinni lore, Demetrios tells a lush, captivating tale about a jinni named Nalia as she fights for her freedom, her family and her fellow jinnis. Oh, and falls in love, too. 

Exquisite Captive is pretty lengthy, but it's all too easy to get swept up in the story. Demetrios takes care to fill these pages with passages full of details - about the setting, the characters and their relationships, and jinni lore. There's an equal balance between information and action, however, as Nalia runs into a lot of "situations" in her fight to escape and be free. It's pretty riveting! The beautiful and the dark are woven well together, compelling me to keep on turning the page.

Nalia is a powerful young jinni, enslaved to a master whose whims she must obey without question. She's fascinating, a combination of magic + beauty + sass + smarts. But she's also infuriating in her impulsiveness, whether in action or emotion. Nalia is a puzzle of contradictions, armed with skills and flaws, and in spite of the fact that she's a jinni and I'm human, I found her personality surprisingly relatable.  

There are many other characters in Exquisite Captive, but two in particular stand out: Raif, leader of the Arjinnan revolution, and Malek, Nalia's master. Both men are important players who shift and shape the course of Nalia's story. Each man needs something different from Nalia: Malek requires her talents + her love, while Raif demands her help for the revolution. They both affect her struggle to be free, and her thoughts of love and romance, and it's pretty interesting to watch where it leads.

My reservations lie in two things, but both are rooted in one element: the romance. There are some pretty twisted feelings afoot in Nalia's heart at one point, and it made my head and heart hurt to read. And then there's the fact that things pick up a touch too quickly, leaving me feeling a little bereft at the lack of build-up.

But even these things couldn't stop me from devouring Exquisite Captive. Demetrios' storytelling drew me in completely. It was a full immersion into this brand new world she's created, full of jinnis, their lives, their histories, their wars, their presence in our world. Nalia's story came alive in Exquisite Captive, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how it's going to continue.

Based on Arjinnan castes, what kind of jinni would you be?

There are basically five castes of jinnis in Demetrios' novel: Ifrit (who control fire), Shaitan (who control air), Djan (who control earth), Marid (who control water) and Ghan Aisouri (bearers of all four elements). While I'd ideally love to be Ghan Aisouri and master all four elements, I think it'd suit me just fine to be Marid. I'd love to be able to harness the power of water (sort of like Nalia's friend Leilan) to create beautiful things. 


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