Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

Title: Spice Road

Author: Maiya Ibrahim

Publisher: Random House Children’s, Delacorte Press

Published: January 24, 2023

Pages: 464

Format: e-arc via Netgalley

Goodreads Blurb

“The first book in an epic fantasy series for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal and Elizabeth Lim, set in an Arabian-inspired land. Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, seventeen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother whose betrayal is now their greatest threat.

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic awakens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation’s coveted spice – a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief.

But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation’s magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city’s location. Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission.

Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes – and in her own heart – but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?

In this epic and action-packed fantasy, one young heroine navigates the treacherous road between protecting the ones you love and staying loyal to the place you call home.”

My Review

I buddy-read this with Dini and we had some similar thoughts. I think she had a harder time getting into it than I did though. From the beginning, I was hooked!

My favorite aspect of this book was the enemies-to-lovers trope. It just gets me every time and might be what sucked me in right away. The thing is, I’m a little nervous that a love triangle is going to bloom in subsequent books. I’m hoping not because it’s my least favorite trope. There are some instances though that might lead that way.

From the beginning, I enjoyed Imani and her sister. Their dynamic is definitely not the best but I think there’s going to be a lot of improvement there. Honestly, there are times when Amira outshined Imani. There are some stark differences there and Amira is much more involved with what’s really going on in their home. Imani is just basically a soldier that follows orders and doesn’t question anything. I think, this is where people will struggle to love Imani when they meet her. This gives so much opportunity for Ibrahim to show us a great character arc, which we do get by the end. I can’t wait to see more of Amira though.

Taha is the love interest and he’s something else. I had such a hard time figuring out his character because it changes so much. I think there’s something going on with him that we can’t see/understand. I’m hoping that book two will shine a light on that because it can be confusing. Just think of his character having a lot of whiplash between having many emotions and becoming an emotionless robot. It can be quite frustrating but I’m holding out hope that there’s something to it and not just his struggle. Qayn was also a character that I enjoyed. He brought a lot of humor in some intense moments. He’s supposed to be hunted and killed by the other characters. It was nice seeing that struggle/balance between them. He has much more going on than we know. I cannot wait to learn more about him. The little pieces we do get are not enough!

One of the things I struggled with was the world-building. More importantly, the lack thereof. There are a lot of cool magic and magical creatures in this world. Yet, we do not get to see a lot of that. I need to know more about the magic and how it works. Where are all these creatures and why should they be killed? I do think we get to see another side of the council when a lot of questions come into play. We learn that Imani grows in power but why and how? How does Qayn know more about it than her? I am hoping that book two will clear a lot of things up, which I’m sure it will.

Overall, this was a really quick read for me. I just dived in and had to know what was going to happen next. There are a lot of emotional moments and some shocking ones too! I have no idea how some characters will come back from things and I have no idea who to trust. There’s a great cast of characters and book two sounds like it will be full of action!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for an e-arc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

16 thoughts on “Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

  1. Pingback: January Wrap-Up! | Books Are The New Black

  2. Great review, Leslie! I’m glad this managed to suck you in from the beginning but I’m sorry that I held you back from reading it cos I was so slow! 😂 I totally agree that Amari outshone Imani at times and there were definitely lots of moments where I liked her more initially. Imani’s character growth was just fantastic! I’m also not sure how to feel about Taha now with everything that happened, lol. I wanna hate him but also, do I really? 😂 I can’t wait to see what happens next!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dini! ❤ Honestly, there's no worries there, at all. I've been slagging with EVERYTHING. I know that work has been slammed for you too. I have so much to read and it was no problem at all. Yes, I can't wait for book two!! Onto the next buddy read… ❤


  3. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Debut Books! | Books Are The New Black

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