When I hear 'historical fiction' I usually think bodices and corsets, but this book was so different! First of all, I've never read a YA novel set in Arabia; secondly, I've never read one set in 200 BC! For those who don't know their history, that wasn't caveman times, it was after Alexander the Great.
The book summary gives you the premise, so I won't repeat it here. Instead, a few random observations:
This book has the best antagonist I've come across in ages! I spent the whole book wondering 'is he bad or is he good?' (You won't find out till the end. Actually, I'm still wondering about it!)
The friction between Alia and Kardal is great. They're two characters who seem fated to have tension right from the beginning. In fact, even before they meet! And the resolution chapter... great!
Which brings me to my next point: you know how when you were a teen, there were certain books you'd read over and over, and in those, certain chapters you'd read over and over? Well, this book has 2 of those for me - if I were a teenager I'd probably read those chapters every night!
Which is a nice segueway to my next point... I found Alia kind of naïve at times, but then I had to remind myself that she's 15, hasn't been anywhere, and doesn't live in times when she would see or hear much of the outside world. If I were a teen, I probably wouldn't find her naïve at all; in fact ,she's a good role model ' equal parts compassionate and brave.
I think I'm going to re-read this book and focus less on the plot, more on the writing, setting, and mood, because there are some really beautiful descriptions and evocative scenes.
I definitely recommend this book!
I read this two my two boys and they loved it. Although they don't usually like books with a female main character, they thoroughly enjoyed this one (and it helped that there is an older brother in the story).
Shaya Solen finds a strange bracelet made of feathers and hair (ewww! Creepy!) and it turns out that the bracelet belonged to a witch. As long as Shaya has the bracelet, she is being haunted by the witch... and she can't seem to get rid of the bracelet! She starts to unearth more clues, trying to find out what the witch wants... and I can't really tell you more without adding spoilers.
The book was so fast paced, my boys kept begging me not to stop! We got through it in a few nights. Warning though: it may be a little too scary for younger kids. My youngest (who is 9) wanted his light on those nights! It's fine for pre-teens and teens though. There's nothing earth-shattering in the way of deep themes or character development, bu then, who wants that from a ghost story?
And I loved the character of Shaya. She was just the right mix of smart, sassy, caring, brave... and dealing with all the frustrations of being 13. This reminded me of just how annoying parents and siblings can be when you're 13... as if you need that on top of being haunted by a witch!
And the ending is so perfect -- I laughed out loud.