filled star filled star filled star filled star star unfilled
djhowty Avatar


Iberia, 1491. The city of Granada is surrounded by Spaniards, isolating the last sultan, who spends his days with his harem and his concubine pretending as if nothing is wrong. Inside the walls of the palace and the harem, a concubine dreams of freedom and wings. And a mapmaker opens doors for her.

This is a beautiful, beautiful story filled with despair and hopelessness that's buoyed by faith and longing for freedom—a freedom that might only be found in death but remains freedom. I know that sounds incredibly depressing, but it's just beautifully written and so filled with magic that's neither good or evil but just is, with an agenda that doesn't really correspond to human whims and desires.

I got a lot of strong The Bear and the Nightingale vibes while reading this, and there are strong parallels to The Girl in the Tower, with this story's themes of freedom from the shackles of societal expectations, corrupted religion, a magic that's beyond human sense and an everlasting hope in something that's beyond.

While I wasn't completely bowled over by the ending (this book was working on five stars up until the last ten pages or so), I fell in love with Fatima's anger and passion, her burning desire to see Hassan safe and her ability to give up everything to save the one person who gave her things without expectation or debt. She's such a complicated and interesting person and so brave—and so soft and hard at the same time. And Hassan...that sweet, delicate and special man. I felt both that he was under-developed and meant to be a mystery all at once, someone who was tapping into something not meant for human eyes or comprehension. (view spoiler) And Vikram is probably one of my favorite jinns of all time.

Anywho. If you're interested in reading a story about Muslims in Spain during the time of Isabella (I'm not mentioning her name with Ferdinand because he really was a sullen asshole) and how the Inquisition was a real shit show for a lot of people—and you want to read something magical and fraught with rapidly encapsulating danger, then pick this up.

It's worth it.

I received this ARC from Edelweiss for an honest review.