Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

Posted January 26, 2023 by Lillian in Reviews / 2 Comments

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Review: Spice Road by Maiya IbrahimSpice Road by Maiya Ibrahim
Series: The Spice Road Trilogy #1
Published by Delacorte Press on 2023-01-24
Length: 458 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2023, 2023 New Release Challenge, COYER 2023

The first book in an epic fantasy series set in an Arabian-inspired land with secret spice magic. Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, sixteen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother, whose betrayal is now the country's greatest threat.

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, there is secret spice magic that awakens the affinities of those who drink the misra tea. Sixteen-year-old Imani has the affinity for iron and is able to wield a dagger like no other warrior. She has garnered the reputation as being the next great Shield for battling djinn, ghouls, and other monsters spreading across the sands.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother, who tarnished the family name after it was revealed that he was stealing his nation's coveted spice—a telltale sign of magical obsession. Soon after that, he disappeared, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes. Despite her brother’s betrayal, there isn’t a day that goes by when Imani doesn’t grieve him.

But when Imani discovers signs that her brother may be alive and spreading the nation's magic to outsiders, she makes a deal with the Council that she will find him and bring him back to Qalia, where he will face punishment. Accompanied by other Shields, including Taha, a powerful beastseer who can control the minds of falcons, she sets out on her mission.

Imani will soon find that many secrets lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes—and in her own heart—but will she find her brother?

If you are looking for an epic fantasy to sink your teeth into, look no further. Spice Road by debut author Maiya Ibrahim is an epic fantasy adventure across an Arabian-inspired land full of monsters and djinni where danger lurks behind every face you meet. Following a young Shield searching for her missing brother, Spice Road is a delectable tale of courage in the face of adversity.

Sixteen-year-old Imani is one of the strongest and youngest magic wielders in her time. With an affinity for iron, she can manipulate her dagger in combat, making her a formidable foe and earning her the nickname of Djinni Slayer among her fellow Shields. However, her accomplishments and her family’s reputation is overshadowed by the disappearance of her older brother, Atheer, who went missing a year prior along with a stash of misra (a spice that gives them their magical abilities). Despite her strengths and loyalty, Imani is questioned and doubted by the other Shields, and in her grief, Imani begins questioning and searching for her own answers.

I loved this book from beginning to end. Imani is a fantastic narrator for this story. I loved seeing the world through her eyes. The author does a fabulous job of conveying the danger of the monsters who live in the sands between Imani’s village and the outside world. I got so engrossed in this story that when it endedI was bereft. I wanted to stay there! Imani is lost in her own grief, and we are able to see how that grief colors her perceptions of the world around her. When she discovers her brother may be alive in the kingdom across the sands, we see a shift in her. We see why she is known as the Djinni Slayer and why other Shields may have a hard time trusting her.

There are so many wonderful characters in this book besides Imani. I loved Qayn, the djinni who knows Atheer and convinces Imani to bind him to her dagger and he will show her the way to him. He opens Imani’s mind to the possibility that not all monsters are evil as she has been taught to believe. Qayn is morally grey (which y’all know I love!), and I found myself just as drawn to him as Imani is. Then, there is Taha, another Shield who is the same age as Imani and just as strong in his own affinity. Taha is sent with Imani to recover Atheer by the council. He is an enigma to Imani and the reader. He can be kind and almost shy in his interactions with her, and then just as quickly turn cruel. He has many secrets, and Imani is determined to uncover them.

Overall, I loved Spice Road! I could write another ten posts on the world building, the characters who I didn’t mention here, the potential love interests, AMIRA, and so much more. This easily will find its way onto my top reads of the year for 2023. If you are a fan of epic fantasy, I highly recommend it.

About Maiya Ibrahim

Author Maiya Ibrahim

Maiya Ibrahim is the debut author of SPICE ROAD, publishing January 24, 2023 from Delacorte Press and Hodderscape. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology Sydney. When she isn’t writing, reading, or spending time with her family, she enjoys video games, gardening, and expanding her collection of rare trading cards. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

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