Title: Exquisite Captive
Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Series: The Dark Caravan Cycle (Book 1)
Format: Hardcover; 480 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (October 7, 2014)
Notes: I borrowed the book from the library.
Nalia Aisouri’Taifyeh is the last Ghan Aisouri—the only jinni with royal blood in all of Arjinna. By ancient law the Amethyst Crown is hers. She however feels herself unworthy of such an honor. Three years ago, when the the palace was overrun with Ifrit vermin and their poisonous dark magic, she was the only one to survive. The whole realm was and is in shambles, its powerful Ghan Aisouri protectors slain in one night of carnage. She, however, managed to escape the fate of her sisters in arms only to find herself enslaved in the dark caravan and sold to the highest bidder on Earth. Her master, Malek Alzahabil, bought her when she was fifteen and instead of cashing in his three wishes like most, he'd found a wishing loophole which allowed her to grant wishes to his associates, thereby, extending his hold on her powers as he withheld his third and final wish.
The world had thought all the Ghan Aisouri were all dead, but the secret that one survived has recently been revealed, and Nalia is now being hunted by her enemies. Shackled to her master, haunted by the past, racked with the guilt over what she'd done, could she be the Kingdom's only hope? A warrior brought down to humble means may just be what the empire needs. For it was the allowance of an abuse of power that brought the civil unrest and the war that followed to Arjinna. But before she can do anything else, she needs to free herself of her master and return to her realm. With an offer by the Rebel leader of her world to help free her from her master in exchange for some undisclosed favor, could the price of freedom be too steep? After all, freedom is power.
So I am not the type to be drawn to a book by the normal means. I don't often go by other people's recommendations--I've been burned once too many times that way. Instead, if a cover and book synopsis appeal to me, I'll pick up the book. I also tend to pick up a book if I keep seeing or hearing the name of a title over and over and the synopsis appeals to me, and that is the very thing that finally got me to pick this book up. I found the title of this one a tad misleading, and I worried this was an erotic read, which is what initially kept me from looking into the book sooner. Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I investigated the book further and was delighted to find it was a young adult book.
The book has two worlds associated with it. Ours, set in present day time, and the world of the Jinn called Arjinna which has been torn apart by war. The world of the Jinn has a more ancient feel to it which seems to be steeped in tradition and magic. Three years ago the protectors/ruling class of the land, the Ghan Aisouri, were killed and overthrown and ever since a constant battle for power has ensued. The Infrit, a type of Jinn which is known for its cruelty and use of dark magic, took over and the rest of the Jinn have been attempting to take control away from them ever since. What makes the Ghan Aisouri so powerful and why the Infrit want them all dead, is that they are the only Jinn who can access the power of all four elements: air, earth, water, and fire. All other castes can only access one.
I'm kind of torn about how I feel about the book in general. I liked it, but the ending made me feel the next book will be the real deciding factor as to whether I fall in love with the series as a whole or not. Nalia was just beginning to be trained in the ways of the Ghan Aisouri when her world fell apart. Most think her kind were "born without hearts and that the blood in their veins runs as cold as the snow in the heights of the Qaf Mountains." In a way, that's true. They're taught early on that they can never have love other than for their Empress and country. They are not allowed to marry. They devote themselves to protecting the realm. Nalia, however, had never been quite as cold as the rest and questioned the way of things. Perhaps in time Nalia would have come to be as the others, but before that could happen a bad decisions on Nalia's part led to the destruction of all she held dear. This, teamed with the fact she's been a slave for the past three years, makes Nalia vulnerable because she still needs to come to terms with all that happened, get her bearings, and move on. Her being imprisoned has never allowed her to do that. If in the next book Nalia gains self confidence, learns to use her powers to their fullest ability, and grows as an individual then I think this could really turn into wonderful series. Right now, however, Nalia is ridden with guilt and doesn't know her own worth. Before she can move forward, she needs to accept her destiny and forgive herself.
Like most young adult books, this one has a love triangle. Malek, Nalia's mysterious master, is rich and powerful. Recently he's decided to pursue her romantically and this lends a little drama to the story. While we learn a lot about him in this book, I can't help but feel there's something big that has yet to be revealed about him. I'm curious as to what his role will be in the next book. I'm definitely not a fan of him and Nalia being together. The Second love interest is Raif, the leader of Arjinna's rebel forces. While closer to Nalia's age, there is something from Nalia's past that may come between them. Truth be told, I don't think I'd be too upset if she doesn't end up with him either.
Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses.The book started off great and immediately grabbed my full attention, but started to loose some momentum in the middle and at times dragged a bit. While I wish the author had been a little lighter on the romance and a little heavier on the magic and drama, I was entertained and am intrigued enough to want to know where the author will take this story. The world building was great and I hope we'll be learning more about Arjinna.