Author: Heather Demetrios.
Published: October 7th by Balzer + Bray.
Sort: Dark Caravan #1.
Source: Edelweiss & Publisher.
Forced to obey her master. Compelled to help her enemy. Determined to free herself. 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?
Nalia is a Jinni slave for Malek, a mysterious human being who doesn’t age. He is mean and has kept her in his presence for the past 3 years, because he manages to manipulate Nalia into granting wishes without sacrificing his third and last wish. He punishes her, because Nalia often attempts to escape from his mistreatment, by putting her back in her bottle. This is a torture method that makes Nalia feel like she is suffocating. Then Raif appears in her life. He is the enigmatic leader of the Arjinna’s revolution against the Ifrit. He needs Nalia’s help to win the war, but there is only one way and it seems impossible: Nalia needs to get her bottle back from Malek.
The Jinni part was amazing, but Heather uses a lot of different terms and throws them easily around in the story. I was sometimes confused what everything meant, but slowly I understood the basics of this world. There is Earth and a place called Arjinna where the Jinni’s come from. Nalia fled from Arjinna after a coup from the evil Ifrits and they killed her kind, the most powerful type of Jinni’s; Ghan Aisouri. She has been hiding her true appearance to look like a lesser Jinni and became part of the Dark Caravan; the slave trade between Arjinna and Earth. Raif is aware of her true identity and he needs one of her secrets for his war against the Ifrit. He and Nalia are sworn enemies and it pains him to ask her for help.
If the information would have been better integrated in the story, it would have been less overwhelming. I must give credits for the originality and I was intrigued by the overall world-building. The Arjinnan castes information page was a nice addition. This is also one of the few things I liked about this book, because Nalia is thrown into one of the worst love-triangles I’ve seen in a while.
Malek is a cruel guy, but Heather tries to make up for his harsh punishments by giving his behavior an explanation. I wasn’t swayed by that and that made the romance between Nalia and him disgusting. I don't care for abusive guys. I was disappointed by Nalia and how easily she was swayed by his sweet words and kind temper when he wasn’t in one of his moods. In the end she does turn around, but I couldn’t completely believe her words when there were parts like this in the story:
”He pulled her closer, deepening his kiss, and she didn’t realize she was kissing him back – that she was suddenly wanting to kiss him back – until a knock sounded at the door, startling both of them.”
You can’t kiss someone without knowing it and just because someone is a good kisser doesn’t mean you suddenly forgive their abuse.
She is supposed to be this powerful Jinni, but all I could see was a girl that whined too much. I also felt there was too much emphasis on the fact that letting Malek have his way with her was the only answer to get the bottle back.. Nalia had her moments, but I wish I saw more of the strong girl I was expecting. The sudden romance between her and Raif went way too fast. He hates her for most part of the book, but out of nowhere he kisses her and announces that he loves her. I also didn’t care much for him. I found his character a bit dull and shallow.
The ending didn’t blow me away either. Now I think about it, I don't even recall what exactly happened.. This was a story with potential, but it let me down.