Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult
“We will fight, but first there will be tea.”~Imani, p. 1
One of my goals while in Australia is to read as many books as possible by Australian authors. So I was really happy to learn to that a new release on my TBR is by an Aussie Author! Also turns out, today is Australian Reading Hour Day where folks are encouraged to read for an hour, enjoy bookish things, and share about bookish things. So it felt like the perfect day to post a review of my first Aussie authored book!
Spice Road is an immersive fantasy story that centers Imani as she searches for her brother and strives to uphold her family’s honor and reputation. Set in a world of djinnis, tea magic, and dangerous deserts, we are drawn into a story of love, family, and political intrigue.
Ibrahim’s world building is fantastic. From the first few pages, you beautiful descriptions give you a sense of walking or riding along Imani as she travels Qalia and then enters the dangerous roads headed for Alqibah. The first few “battles” with Taha, Fey, and Reza are great for showing us the different affinities that are released thanks to the magic of the tea/misra. And that is one of the things I love about this book. The worldbuilding feels like an organic part of the plot that comes through in plot developments, so there is a lot of showing with the right mix of telling. The world is built around you.
The class-based fights between Imani and Taha are also fantastic as is the critique of the colonization and the political issues that arise from it. I love when a fantasy book manages to bring in social issues as a key driver of the plot without hitting you over the head (although, in fairness, Imani clearly needed to be hit over the head a few times), and Spice Roadis a great example of how to do it well. Ibrahim also does a great job showing how, based one’s life experience, two arguably similar people can see a situation completely differently.
Spice Road is the first book in a new tribology that is sure to be a favorite for many of us.