A little while back Harper Childrens’ Audio was kind enough to send me a review copy of Heather Demetrios’ first book in the new Dark Caravan series, Exquisite Captive. This book was inspired by Arabian Nights, which is not a story you see popping up in YA fiction that often, so I was pretty interested from the beginning.
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?
Overall, I have positive feelings toward Exquisite Captive. The story, although feeling similar to some other stories I’ve read recently, was for the most part unique. The idea of a genie being enslaved to its wish maker (master) is one I had never really given much thought to, usually assuming the genie doesn’t mind granting wishes. But duh! Of course the genie would hate being entrapped by someone else even if that someone else treats you like a princess giving you all the material things you’d want.
Nalia’s backstory, which unfolds as the story progresses, also opens up the door to a world entirely separate from our own. Most of Exquisite Captive takes place in our contemporary world, but with Nalia’s back story we learn more about the Dark Caravan and the home she has left behind. I’m excited at the prospect of exploring the world of Arjinna as the series continues as well.
One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the love triangle between Nalia, Malek, and Raif. I have to admit we’re not given much to ship in this love triangle. Malek, Nalia’s sometimes kind, sometimes cruel master is incredibly confusing in his behavior and treatment of Nalia, while Raif is pretty boring. This causes me to feel conflicted over who I should be cheering on! Malek is a mean, although good-looking, slave owner and Raif is a boring, also good-looking, jinni rebel. Honestly I think I’m leaning towards Malek – at least he’s interesting!
Conflicting love triangle aside, I do have mostly positive feelings toward Exquisite Captive. The story is interesting and unique and I will mostly likely pick up book two, Blood Passage, when it releases later this year. In the end I believe that Exquisite Captive would be best enjoyed by paranormal romance fans (it feels more like paranormal romance than fantasy) would enjoy this read!