Thanks to Harper Voyager for providing me with an ARC for this review!
Synopsis provided by Goodreads:
Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass--a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .
Nerdy Giraffe Review:
Buckle up, guys, and get ready to be wrapped up in a whirlwind of adventure, romance, and magic as Nahri discovers Daevabad and the world of the djinn. After reading the first page of The City of Brass, I knew this story would not disappoint. While I feel that my words won't really do this story justice, I'll attempt to share with you my thoughts based off what I feel to be the three most important components of a good story:
1. Rich and complex characters: From our fierce and relatable leading lady, Nahri, to minor characters that help progress the plot in subtle ways, each character had an objective, a back story, a desire to see change in this politically, religiously, and economically conflicted world. I could never pinpoint who were the antagonist in this story because each character was written so compellingly that I wanted what they wanted, and that goes double for the characters who felt morally justified and corrupt all at once.
2. Deep and sensual world-building: Our heroine starts off in 18th century Cairo, and immediately, the reader can tell how much research the author has done in creating the world. Best of all, it thoroughly informs Nahri's decisions and the way she interacts with the other characters. But S.A. Chakraborty doesn't stop there. While her 18th century Cairo feels historically authentic, her magical, parallel world of the Daevas, djinns, and other supernatural creatures has it's own vast history and culture, which informs the decisions of the rest of the characters. This wide array of cultures and histories fuel the conflicts within the story, making the reader feel immersed in the setting.
3. A fantastically unpredictable plot: This story had me sitting on the edge of my seat with every flip of the page. I could never tell what was going to happen next because the characters kept crossing each other's path in a "Game of Thrones-kind-of-way." Nahri's adventure is filled with daring battles, terrifying monsters, shady secrecy, and jaw-dropping magic. The momentum of the story felt like a roller coaster. Each objective felt important and drove the plot forward. No scene felt unnecessary or filled with useless information. Each conversation felt like a win for one character and a defeat for another. While I won't reveal the ending, what happened in the last few chapters had me screaming at the pages and wishing that it didn't have to end.
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy fantasy worlds, strong plots, and vivid characters. I cannot believe that I have to wait until next year for the second book to come out, but I have no doubt that it will be worth the wait. While I love my ARC and am so grateful to have received it so early, I will definitely be getting myself a copy of the hardcover in November to sit on my favorite books shelf along with The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy classics. Chakraborty's world definitely deserves to sit amongst them.