Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1)
I really enjoy Heather Demetrios’ books and her writing style so I was very excited to see both THE EXQUISITE CAPTIVE and its sequel, Blood Passage, come my way for a review. I know that the topic of jinn is a very current trend in Young Adult right now but THE EXQUISITE CAPTIVE is the first book I’ve read about this topic and it did not disappoint!
The narrative follows the story of Nalia, a Ghan Aisouri jinni. Ghan Aisouri jinnis are the most powerful caste of jinni as they can access the power of all four elements: air, earth, water, and fire. Her homeland, Aijinna, is ripped apart when a group of Ifrit, jinni who use fire and its energy for dark magic, lead a coup that kills every Ghan Aisouri jinni except for Nalia. She is able to escape but only to be sold in the jinni slave trade to her new master, Malek.
I appreciated the way Demetrios’ explored the idea of love and lust or longing. When Nalia’s master, Malek, begins to express interest in her she is genuinely confused and conflicted. She recognizes that she shouldn’t enjoy him, and doesn’t want to want him, but finds that her heart and body are reacting in different ways. It isn’t until she meets Raif, the leader of Arijinna’s revolution and her sworn enemy, that she begins to realize the differences between finally not feeling lonely and real affection.
Nalia is a fantastic character who is immediately relatable, despite the fact that she’s the last of a very powerful kind of jinni. She’s angry at being forced into slavery, heartbroken by what’s happening in her home land, desperate to save her brother, and feels immense guilt at the role she played in all of this. At the same time, she’s thoughtful, a good friend to the few people she lets herself get close to, and loyal to the vows she made as an Ghan Aisouri.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The world of jinni was confusing and difficult for me to keep up with, especially at the beginning. The Arjinnan Castes with their different color eyes and smoke and different gods were very difficult for me to keep track of. I found myself flipping to the front of the book to figure out what each character of jinni was several times.
Obviously there is also a lot of backstory to Nalia’s story as everything I described above actually happens before we are introduced to her on the page. The first few chapters were a lot of exposition of all this history and it slowed down the plot, which was a little frustrating since it gave the story a slow start. However, by the time things started moving in the plot, they didn’t stop until the very last page.
Though Raif and Nalia are a couple that I was rooting for, I did feel like their connection was hurried. Some of that is explained away with the way their specific magic, or chiaan, interacts with one another but the story only takes place over the course of a few days and declarations of true love felt slightly forced to me.
EXQUISITE CAPTIVE is a fantastic exploration of the jinni legends and culture told through a unique and exhilarating plot that holds no punches. Nalia and Raif are characters you’ll fall in love with immediately and you’ll be itching to get your hands on the sequel immediately.
Nalia is a jinni, and she is a very powerful one. However, she is trapped and bound. Her cold, confusing, and smart captor (more about him in the later paragraphs) never makes a third wish and never will. Never. She takes delight in ways to undermine his control, but her actions will always come back to haunt her. The war, the same one that has killed Nalia's family and species, comes to Earth. Raif, who is a leader of the rebels, comes to her for help against the very people who killed Nalia's family. She has a hot temper, and she is a horrible liar, but she does have her strengths and weaknesses. She is the naive girl and the prey of the horror movie.
Raif is a love interest for Nalia. As a rebel leader, he has a hard edge and a particular dislike towards Nalia's family. But he shares a heated chemistry with Nalia. Slowly, they grow to understand each other and become allies.
Malek, Nalia's captor, is a very complicated man to Nalia. But most readers can tell the creepiness and wrongness of his actions. Scenes with him are so horrifying and disturbing that I have to look away from the book. Bravo to the author for making a very appalling character who simply begs the readers to hate him. Even worse is that Nalia is developing feelings for him (probably because of Stockholm's Syndrome).
The ending is the most devasting and shocking part of the book. It is not satisfying, and it leaves readers wanting more from the series, wanting to read the next book, wanting to know more about Raif and Nalia. There are no good choices, no clear options, and good endings. Nothing comes out right. It is the most bittersweet ending I've read in years, and it ruins me.
Overall, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE is a well-plotted and dark book. Like a horror movie, the book welcomes readers to read with parts of their eyes covered. Some sections of the book are perfect for readers to scream their frustrations at their heroes. Best recommended to those who love misererable characters, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE is captivating and scary.
Rating: Three out of Five
Left Me Wanting More: At times it felt like it was too much info-dumping, which tends to bore me and made me want to DNF it at times. There wasn’t nearly enough action to move the plot along. I honestly felt this book was way too long and I found myself skimming through a lot of it. I still got the basic picture of the story and enjoyed it, so you can tell that all that frivolous stuff could’ve been left out to make it a more enjoyable read.
Final Verdict: The story in itself is pretty good and I liked the characters. My only problem with it was that it was way too long and full of frivolous details that didn’t add to my enjoyment of the book at all.
I binge bought this book at the beginning of the year, simply because I saw it on a shelf. The story looked interesting and it definitely didn't disappoint. I immediately dug into the book and couldn't put it down! Heck, I probably would have picked the book up for the cover alone.
The characters were nothing if not complex. I liked Nalia, though I figured out some of her secrets right off the bat. I love how the Jinni are from another world that's sorta parallel to ours. There's Malek, the crappy human that owns her who's obviously not fully human. Right off the bat, I knew something was off with Malek, besides his general creepiness. The one downside is it looks like he might be redeemed later in the story, and I really hate him. Then there's Raif, who I MAJORLY ship Nalia with. Raif is really cool, and it's nice to occasionally get in his head and see how he thinks.
This was definitely some good writing. It felt both elegant and succinct. The story got right to the point, and was never confusing, but felt beautiful at the same time. I loved how long the book was, and it really helped me get out of my book slump.
The world building was AWESOME!!!!! I mean, look at Arjinna, home of the Jinni.
Is that not beautiful? It was super cool seeing Nalia's memories of Arjinna, while being solely based in Los Angeles. Their world is obviously complex, and much like the real world, each action has very serious reactions.
So, yeah, read this book! It's super good and I can't wait for the next one!
I fell in love with this book almost immediately. The characters, the setting, the world-building, all of it worked for me and I found myself not wanting to finish because it was going to be a long wait for the next book.
Nalia was a character I really enjoyed. She was strong and massively stubborn. She also had a great sense of humour and could be very feisty, especially in regards to the men who always seemed to want someone from her. She harboured a lot of guilt for being the only survivor of her people and put so much pressure on herself to save her little brother. She seemed very lonely and the few times we saw her getting to positively interact with people who wanted nothing from her, I wanted to cry for her. They were so rare.
The two main men in her life, Malek and Raif, were such complete opposites. Malek could be cruel, though in his twisted way cared for Nalia. I liked the way his back story came into play but with how cruel he was, I could never root for him to end up with Nalia. The relationship between Raif and Nalia started off with a lot of tension and distrust, their castes hate each other, but they need each other. They sparked something in each other and the angry tension turned into something a lot steamier.
The descriptions of everything were amazing. The clothes, the club, Arjinna, the paintings Nalia’s friend Leilan did of Arjinna. It sounded like such a beautiful place that I wanted to visit. The world-building was in-depth and learning about Arjinna felt natural in the plot instead of forced in. The whole plot just flowed really well. Even when there was less action happening, there were other developments that kept my attention, we would get character development or some back story or we’d see through the eyes of the guy sent to murder Nalia.
I think the main thing I loved about the book was the nothing, not the characters or their relationships or the plot or the world, were simple. There were so many sides to everything and it gave the feeling that were will be even more to come.