Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Exquisite Captive

EXQUISITE CAPTIVE
Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Heather Demetrios
Young Adult/Fantasy-ish
480 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available October 7th
Source: BEA

THE STORY (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?


MY THOUGHTS
Exquisite Captive is an aptly named story, Nalia’s tale of servitude a striking combination of beauty and darkness, the gilded shackles that bind her to Malek all the more painful for the shame and guilt their elegance masks. Ms. Demetrios does her readers a kindness by supplying a glossary of the various jinni castes in the front of the book, preparing us upfront for the unusual terminology and ensuring we’re instantly riveted by this epic fantasy because little time is wasted trying to sort through complicated history and an unfamiliar vocabulary. She also proves herself to be more than adept at feeding readers backstory in easily digestible pieces, giving us time to familiarize ourselves with Nalia and her predicament before slowly revealing the history of her people and what led them all to this exact moment in time.

Nalia is someone easy to root for from the very beginning, a prologue detailing the pain and terror she feels in the confines of the bottle tying her to Malek echoing through us until we want nothing more than for her to attain her freedom by any means possible. She handles her time with Malek remarkably well, staging minor rebellions however she can just so she doesn’t lose herself to him completely, but also knowing when subservience will be more to her benefit than fight and fire. Her guilt over her brother and the fate of the other Ghan Aisouri eats at her every waking moment, but instead of allowing herself to be weighed down by melancholy and myriad “what if” questions, she puts one foot in front of the other and does what needs to be done.

Many readers may initial shy away from this story simply due to the fact that there are two men in Nalia’s life once revolutionary leader Raif approaches her at Malek’s home, but the lines connecting the three of them do not form the traditional triangle found in so many YA novels. Instead, Ms. Demetrios gives us in Malek someone who simply cannot be viewed as a love interest given what he’s put Nalia through for the past three years, but yet, YET, she’s written him in such a way that we fall prey to the dangerous illusion that is the promise of change. In his quiet moments with Nalia, Malek shows glimmers of true affection so enticingly fragile we can’t help but want to protect them from the times when his baser nature gets the better him, and every viscerally tender moment causes the hope that he will choose to be the better of his two selves to reignite. Swiftly following that hope though are tendrils of doubt, weaving themselves in and around us so we are as shackled as Nalia, wondering if we’ll ever be able to see Malek for what he truly is rather than what we wish him to be.

Overall, Exquisite Captive is a haunting start to this series, the wishes, fears, and hopes of both characters and readers coalescing into a single beautiful story that leaves us looking forward with nothing but anticipation.

Rating: 4/5


Find Heather:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

36 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward reading this book ever since I saw it online few months ago. But a friend of mine told me that the arabic terms & setting are not that easy to get used to. But now after reading your review, I'm more excited to read the book. Looking forward for the release date. Thanks for reviewing this one Jenny.

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    1. The jinni castes and things are tricky to remember, but the glossary in the front was super helpful, so I don't think you'll be too lost:)

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  2. It's nice to see that the feelings of the characters were so well shared. I'm always intrigued and blown away when it's like that. I saw this one a couple of times but I didn't kept the review in mind so I don't think they were that good. but I'm glad you had a good time.

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    1. I did thoroughly enjoy this one:)

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. I am really looking forward to reading it. I am also relieved to hear that there isn't a traditional love triangle (phew!) even though there are two possible love interests. I am a little overwhelmed by the different castes, but you said that there's a list in the front…it's always nice to refer to that when immersing yourself in a new "world." Thank God authors do that! I am the type of reader to always refer to stuff like that (maps, family trees, etc). Thanks for the great review, Jenny!

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    1. YES! No love triangle in the traditional sense. I just love characters like Malek you can't be sure won't cross the line that makes something they do unforgivable:)

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  4. I have been quite intrigued by this one, given that jinni aren't all that usual in fantasy and since I've heard some really great reviews for it. I haven't really been sure about the romance, but the way you've described it reminds me a bit of Alina with Mal and the Darkling... which makes it even more interesting to read about!
    Thank you for a great review, Jenny!

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    1. THE DARKLING!!! Yes. Malek has a lot of Darkling qualities. I found myself making excuses for him which is always fascinating:)

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  5. I read "Dark Caravan" as "Dark Caveman." That's quite a bit of a difference, there. This one sounds like it could do a number on your head.

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    1. Heh. I would so read a series called Dark Cavemen.

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  6. I'm happy you loved this, Jenny. I talked to Heather about Malek and she ensured me that the story wouldn't have a love triangle and I'm grateful for that. Unfortunately, I'm not as big-hearted as you are and refused to see him for anything other than the scumbag he was. I think he would make a fabulous villain though. Also, I'm sort of crushing hard on Raif though, so I'm a little biased. :P
    Great review! :)

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    1. Hahaha there was just something about him Nick! I was naively hopeful that he would prove himself to be worth her forgiveness. He never quite got there, but that's what I find so interesting about him:)

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  7. This one sounds unique but I am not sure I could get behind the guy. I might could if it was Dark Caveman like Amanda read LOL :) However, I will put it on my library radar!

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    1. Raif definitely has my vote in terms of love interests, but I found Malek's character to be super interesting. Lots of layers:)

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  8. "Nalia is someone easy to root for from the very beginning, a prologue detailing the pain and terror she feels in the confines of the bottle tying her to Malek echoing through us until we want nothing more than for her to attain her freedom by any means possible. "

    Those sentences completely both intrigued and caught my attention Jenny. It makes me want to pick this up and start it today!
    I agree, we need more hours in the day!

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    1. Yes to more hours in the day. Those hours can only be for reading though, work hours still need to be limited to 8:)

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  9. A jinni..love it, and I had no idea this was YA, for some reason I thought this was much darker. I am curious about the non-traditional triangle, and love that you connected with heroine.

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    1. I hope you give this one a try Kim!

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  10. I am so glad you liked this one, Jenny. I have a copy for review and I have read some mixed reviews. I am sure I will like it though and I like that it doesn't go into a love triangle. Besides, I haven't read a jinni book.

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    1. I just found the dynamic between Nalia and Malek to be really interesting. He was a hard man to like, but there was just something intriguing about him. I couldn't help but want to know more.

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  11. It seems like I might be getting this one. I was either offered or clicked something for a review copy. I don't have it yet though so maybe I'm remembering wrong. It sounds excellent though, I love the idea of it all!

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    1. Hope you get a chance to read it soon Candace:)

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  12. Yay for jinnis! I haven't read too many books about them and I find them absolutely fascinating. I'm surprised that this is YA and I thought it was an adult paranormal romance instead. Your review has me curious and I really like the way she is playing around with the love triangle. I would have some serious issues if the master was the love interest.

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    1. He's definitely not the love interest, so no worries. Nalia couldn't love him given what she's gone through, but there were moments between them that kept me glued to pages. I was just rooting for him to be a better man, and I can't wait to see how that progresses as the series continues:)

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  13. Ohh I so want to try this jinni book!

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  14. Ah! I've read so many mixed things about this book, and I'm SO glad to hear you enjoyed it. It has such a Beauty & the Beast ring to it, and Arabia! Cannot wait to read it. Lovely review, Jenny.

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  15. I have heard such amazing things about this one that I cannot wait to read it myself. I love the whole setting idea, but what I like more is the sound of Natalia as she seems like someone I would connect with too. Also I'm so happy that there is no love triangle there!!! Great review, Jenny :)

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  16. While the writing in this was really good, I just didn't feel this story. Sad, I know!! Yeah, triangle boo but that wasn't really an issue. I really didn't like the Stockholm syndrome-ish relationship she had with her "master", especially since he was abusive and yet she had "feelings" for him. Anyway, didn't love it but yay for you really enjoying it! :)

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  17. So you make it sound like you're rooting for Malek here! I've been so wishy washy about whether to read this now or wait for the second book. I'm worried it will be hard for me to read. Though from what reviewers and the author have said, I'm not actually worried about this being dragged out as a love triangle. Even so, those elements could be uncomfortable. In any case, Demetrios is quickly becoming one of my favorite new authors and I'm thrilled to see so much raving about this one.

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  18. YES, I absolutely agree Jenny! I looove your review and am so very torn regarding Malek and Raif. I feel as if this is a love triangle I'm going to enjoy as Nalia's affections are firmly fixed but mine aren't--and I rather like that switch for once! ;) Wonderful review, dear--I need the sequel nooooow!

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  19. I'm so curious to see what I'm going to think of Malek - I feel like any hint of romance will seem like Stockholm Syndrome but I can also see myself hoping and doubting and hoping again like you. Lovely review!

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  20. I'm reading this one now, and I'm glad to hear that the connections between Nalia, Raif, and Malek doesn't follow a traditional triangle. It'll be interesting to see how that goes!

    Great review :)

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  21. Now I'm really curious about the ''love-triangle'' not being one. I've seen this around, but I've also seen many negative reviews so I guess I'll have to put it on hold...until I read the books I planned to for this month. Great review, Jenny! :)

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  22. Awesome review Jenny! So glad that you enjoyed the book. I will be sure to read this soon.

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  23. I've had this one and I was excited about it as soon as I heard about it because JINNIS SOUND SO COOL. But I'll be honest I had no idea what it was really about. It sounds even more intriguing after reading your review! Curious about the love triangle element! HMM!

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