NOTE: This review was already posted on The (YA) Bookcase's blog. I'm reposting it here for link technicalities and because I'm lazy. Enjoy!
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Book One of the Dark Caravan Cycle
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher/The YA Bookcase
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Ahhhh, jinni-related books are totally awesome, in my opinion. There aren't too many in YA literature, but in general. I LOVE them. The Fire Wish by Amber Lough came out earlier this year and I LOVED it. I mentioned this book in that review, so it's only fair that I mention The Fire Wish in this review. I'm so glad that I enjoyed both books! Especially since I saw a particularly negative review for this book (very professional, but not positive at all), which turned me off a little. Still, I read this one and really liked it!
Nalia, the last Ghan Aisouri, is an enslaved jinn. Her master, the cruel but persuasive and wickedly handsome Malek, has asked for two wishes, and is holding on to his third wish. Meanwhile, Nalia's homeland is in the midst of the aftermath of a war and the continuation of a rebellion and power struggle. Nalia's kind, the Ghan Aisouri, have been destroyed (except her) - but they were the royalty. When a Djan, an enemy of the Ghan Aisouri, seeks out Nalia for help, Nalia can't refuse. But is the price of her freedom enslavement by another?
In the very beginning of this book, I was iffy. I already had low expectations because of that Goodreads review, though I was still excited about a jinni-related book. But I immediately didn't like Malek, or even Nalia, though I felt sooooo bad for her. When Raif showed up at the party, then I started to feel more for Nalia. Him being there... I felt like I understood Nalia more, perhaps because she had to reveal more to Raif.
I don't like Malek, won't like Malek, and will never hope for redemption for him. He's messed up, and totally out of chances, in my opinion. He hurt Nalia many times (mostly mentally, but physically too, by stuffing her in the iron jinni bottle, and grabbing her too hard). He thinks he's being merciful or whatever by not forcing himself on her. I hate him and his role in this book, though he is a totally necessary, well-developed character. Basically, Demetrios did a very good job of making me hate him (which was her goal, I'm sure).
I loveeeee Raif. He sees things very black-and-white, until he has to tangle with Nalia (he needs someone as powerful as a Ghan Aisouri for something very specific to help with the rebellion). They're enemies, their races of the jinni (Djan are serf, Ghan Aisouri are royalty), but he's totally smitten, by the end of the book. Raif is hardcore, but so sweet. He doesn't trust Nalia, but he falls for her.
Nalia... I like her. My heart aches for her, and the decisions that she had to make. I get it, even if I hate it. She IS brave, braver than I could be, in that regard. I love that she gets someone to love and someone to love her back, by the end of this book. She deserves it.
I LOVE THE ROMANCE. Okay, I hate the insinuated love triangle. I hate that Nalia has to do certain things with and to Malek (it never goes that far, trust me), and she basically has to deceive him to make him think she loves him. BUT. The real romance? The true pair? Love it. Love them. Raif and Nalia are a great forbidden romance pair.
There is so much history to this book. A huge part of the world-building is the amount of history and customs and prejudices and things of the jinni world. Nalia's kind, the Ghan Aisouri, were slaughtered, and the Djan are leading a rebellion. By historic and modern means, Nalia and Raif hate each other. Or they should. They're on opposite sides. But their budding relationship is symbolism, I suppose.
This book is completely in third person (yay!), but it is not just Nalia's third-person limited perspective. We also get Raif's third-person limited perspective, and isolated chapters following someone else (see the next paragraph).
I love the rising action building towards the climax. There are chapters/scenes that break from Nalia's or Raif third-person perspectives - these chapters/scenes that are different are set in different countries, and follow this sinister ghoul who is preying on jinni females... looking for Nalia. This leads up to the climax - which is epic, by the way.
I really, really enjoyed this book! I'm really excited to see where the next book takes us. There are so many things to be solved/explored... the sigil, the dark caravan, Nalia and Raif's relationship... let's go, Blood Passage, I'm ready for you!
What I Did Not Like:
Obviously, I didn't like Malek and his relationship with Nalia and how Nalia had to convince him that she loved him. It was borderline sickening... but I suppose that goes to show how well Demetrios set up this part of the story. It will break your heart though, or piss you off. Just be warned.
Also, I think think this book could have been cut down some. It didn't need to be as long as it did - I hear some people saying that they're losing interest and might not finish. Well, personally, I think you SHOULD finish, but I understand what you're saying. It gets REALLY good in the second half though...
Would I Recommend It:
In my very honest opinion... YES! Of course! I love fantasy, I love jinni-related books, I love book with Arab influence, and I love a good forbidden romance. The romance in this book really is seductive and thrilling! Once you realize that there really is no love triangle.
I repeat, there really is no love triangle. Says the queen of I-hate-love-triangles-they-can-go-die.
4 (well-deserved) stars! Book two should be even more epic than book one - less focused on Nalia gaining her freedom, and more focused on the war and the sigil and freeing the jinni. And of course, Raif and Nalia. OF COURSE. Because what will everyone think, when they see an empress and a serf together? These are dark and troublesome times...
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!