Wednesday 10 May 2023

Spice Road

Spice Road written by Maiya Ibrahim (Hachette: Stodder & Stoughton UK) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781399702034

Reviewed by Sarah Tegerdine

Spice Road is book one of a hypnotic Arabian-inspired fantasy series for young adults. It’s a narrative that weaves magic and mysticism by evoking all the senses.

Concealed in the arid wastelands of the desert lies a guarded city called Qalia. It is the home to Imani and her people, a people who possess magical affinities for the elements. They awaken them by consuming a mystical spice tea called Misra.

The heroine Imani, is a warrior, known as a ‘Shield’ and her affinity is for iron. She brandishes a blade like no other which garners her a lofty reputation and the nickname of ‘Djinni Slayer.’ As a Shield, her duty is to protect her nation from, monsters, ghouls and evil djinn that hide in the Sahir, beyond the city walls.

We discover however that Imani’s family’s influence and honour has been called into question. Her brother Atheer, a powerful sorcerer, has been missing for nearly a year. Presumed dead beyond their borders, it is learned he had been stealing substantial quantities of their valued spice, Misra. It is assumed he became magically obsessed and destroyed himself.

But when Imani and her sister Amira unravel evidence to suggest that Atheer may still be alive, Imani makes a desperate appeal to the cities council members to form a search party to retrieve him. They agree, and are led by Taha, the son of the Grand Zahim. Taha is a powerful beastseer; however, Imani has her reservations. Taha has only ever treated her with curt disdain and maintains a permanent air of arrogance.

Imani journeys beyond her lands to face unparalleled dangers and is forced to navigate friend from foe in her plight to recover her beloved brother. Imani walks precariously along the edge of a blade to protect the ones she loves while remaining true to her duties as a Shield.

With its captivating narrative, lavish descriptions and mystical sandscapes Spice Road is an action-packed adventure that lures you in from the get-go.

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