31 March, 2018

{ Review } Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

about the book }

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Dark Caravan Cycle, book 1
Published February 1st 2016 by Balzer + Bray, originally published October 7th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
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.


my review }

♫ ♫ ♫ 

My thoughts for this review are plenty and messy and most of it have to do with the ... odd romance in the book. It was weird. Not entirely in a good way? But, like my thoughts, it was sorta messy and kinda complicated. 

But before I get to that! There were a few things I liked about the novel, first being: the writing. 

Demetrios is clearly skilled at it. I thought the world she painted was incredible, and the fact that it's only mentioned in memories or something similar—aka, we never actually go to Arjinna—makes it all the more amazing. This book takes place mostly in Los Angeles, save for the few chapters from another point of view that take place in other cities around the world. Even so, Demetrios had a way of making you feel like you were in whatever setting the character was in. You could picture the scenery, the people and other oddities that Nalia or another POV character noticed. I loved that! It really created a certain mood for some of the crucial scenes in the book.

The whole world she created for the jinn in this book, I thought, was well thought out. You learned a lot about the different castes and the types of magic they did. Explaining some of them, and whatever history came with it, did feel like info-dumping at some points, thought. Still, I liked this background info!

I also really liked Nalia! I wasn't sure at first because of the very first line for the first chapter—not the prologue. I've only ever read one other urban fantasy jinn book—and lemme tell you, Becoming Jinn did not go well whatsoever—so I was hesitant. I had my apprehensions. But Nalia proved herself time and time again. Demetrios did a wonderful job at making her a complex character—she had to go through so much! From her trauma due to being the only jinn of her caste alive, remembering the tragedy, to her warring feelings for her master and Raif... not to mention she's being hunted. Nalia definitely has a lot on her plate, and her thoughts, her actions, they felt appropriate.

Okay, now for the romance. I know it can seem like there's a love triangle triangle from the synopsis, and at times, even throughout the book. But the reason I don't think so is because I just know Nalia would never love Malek. Not because of Raif being in the picture, but because of who—what—Malek is to her: her master, her capture, her torturer. She's not going through stockholm syndrome. I think—and bear with me here, I'm sort of analysing out loud, so for emphasis, I think—that every time Nalia felt conflicted things for Malek and their intimacy, they weren't feelings for him, but rather the situation she was in, if that makes sense?

You have to understand, Nalia's caste, the Ghan Aisouri, didn't believe in love or anything. Nalia was raised on that. She's never "been with a man" or whatever, so she's never experienced the kinds of things she had to do to convince Malek of her feelings. So I think it's 100% possible for her to have confused her feelings for him with her feelings for the idea of love, of intimacy in general. I hate that she had to go down this road for her freedom, but I admire her strength for enduring it. 

Suffice to say, I don't like Malek at all. But again, I applaud Demeterios for painting him in the light he's in. It makes him more of a complex character than a regular old bad villain.

Okay, now the real romance—the one with Raif. I didn't buy it. Hell, I didn't even get it. This is one of my main complaints for the book—their romance just didn't make sense. It was clear from the get-go he would be the love interest, but in the little time they've known each other, I didn't get how their feelings just ran so deep. The buildup didn't lead to that and, frankly, most of their interactions went along the lines of why they didn't like each other (she's Ghan Aisouri, a caste that thought themselves superior; he's a serf caste), why they could never trust each other, and, uh... not very good banter. [insert shrug emote] I don't know guys. Sure the circumstances they were in... okay they were very complex, but I don't know! I don't buy it. I thought it was too soon for everything they said to each other at the end.

My other complaint is that this book was so damn long. I hate, hate, hate reading long ass paragraphs and this book had a lot of 'em. While most of those painted the picture of Arjinna—which I did appreciate—it also made me sigh audibly multiple times because long paragraphs. No thank you. It felt like it lagged at some points and you could sort of feel the length of the book.

So! I apologise for this long review—look at me complaining about long books then writing long reviews, smh @ me. But, yeah, here are my thoughts. TL;DR: It was an okay start to the series, that could have been shorter, with a less weird romance. Overall: 3.5 stars. 


buy the book }

amazon | barnes & noble | book depository | indie bound
kindle | nook | kobo | ibooks | google play

note: all the physical copy links are for the paperbacks that match the rest of the series. (thought book depository is weird, but we know how bad they are with covers in general)

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