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?
Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
My ReviewAuthor: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: October 7 2014
Source: Library ebook
Can this please be the future of fantasy? Like, can we have more books that integrate different cultures seamlessly into the writing? I was so excited to read a book that had little bits of Arabic integrated into it. I can't say if the Arabic was right, seeing as I am not Arabic, but guys, it feels so cool to have a book that mentioned Arabic people. Like, they exist! And visualizing POC felt so much fun. I really want to give this to some of my Arabic friends and ask them what they think.
I really liked Exquisite Captive. The main character is the last of her kind, a Ghan Aisouri (forgive the spelling, I returned the ebook), and to be very honest, her kind was not the best. She is a jinni that can control all four elements while other castes of jinn control just one. Her kind ruled the world of Arjinna quite cruelly, until the Revolution, where every one of Nalia's sisters were slaughtered, and she somehow managed to escape. The specifics of how this occurred are still foggy in my mind, but I'm curious to read more.
Right here, I have to mention that Exquisite Captive did something I really like. It started a bit further into Nalia's story so we don't read about before the Revolution except in flashbacks. Thus, the story starts with Nalia having some baggage, and the action can begin right away. In general, there isn't that much action nor fighting until the end, and hopefully this gives us some hope for the future. I think we'll get back to Nalia reclaiming her identity later. The biggest theme I took away from Exquisite Captive centred around slavery.
I haven't read a book that dealt with slavery since The Color of Rain, and Exquisite Captive is far lighter than that. Nalia is a slave to Malek, this weirdly rich, influential human. He's abusive, and has tortured Nalia. She hates him, and I hated him too. There is something a little bit wrong about Malek, and I loved reading about Nalia's fire. She refused to give in to him. She was constantly fighting for her space, and I loved that. There is a certain plotline that I think some people will not like, but I thought it was explored decently. To be honest, I don't like it very much when I think about it because I think it could have been avoided, or at least there could have been more justification for why this was the absolute last resort, and the fact that there wasn't is a little icky. I couldn't take the storyline too seriously because I always believed there would be another way.
It's weird but I think I just generally ignored a lot of the criteria I search for in books because I liked Nalia, I loved reading about the jinni, and I liked the hints of Arabic in the story. (There is not that much Arabic, but it says a lot about YA that even a few lines of Arabic is enough to excite me.) Nalia was fierce, and burdened in a lot of ways. There were her physical shackles tying her to Malek, but she was also burdened by the legacy as a Ghan Aisouri, and in a different sense, burdened by her love for her brother. I liked the recurring question of wondering who Nalia would be if she were ever free, because there was certainly a darkness to her, but a part of her strongly resists that. It's hard to know who Nalia is going to be, and I think this is a central conflict for her character.
I oddly loved Raif too. I mean, green eyes! Leader of revolution! Loves his sister! Raif is a bit of an asshole and he's a confused one, but I liked the way he and Nalia went head to head. I don't like how fast Nalia and Raif's relationship progressed, and I hope there will be more development for them because as it is, it's not enough for me. But I still liked Raif.
The plot was a little slow, except for the end. There was still enough excitement, creativity, and suspense that I enjoyed the story all throughout. What's weird about Exquisite Captive is that it is a very readable book, but once I left its fog, it's a little less shiny.
I'm excited for the sequel, Blood Passage because I'm curious to see what kind of story this is. I don't know if it will be fantasy-lite with the romance taking the lead, or if it will be extremely character driven, or if it will be an epic fantasy. What's interesting about Exquisite Captive is that it bends genres because of the two different settings it has, Earth and Arjinna, and the way it is written. I hope the story is large and epic, but it could go anywhere, It seems to be a trilogy at this point (cue Mari face-palming), but who really knows?