Monday, November 3, 2014

Title: Exquisite Captive
Author: Heather Demetrios
Narrator(s): Erin Mallon
Series:  Dark Caravan Cycle, book #1
Length:  13 hrs 44 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source: audiobook received from publisher, galley from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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.

Exquisite Captive began very slowly, methodically building the world of Arjinna and portraying life as jinni slave here on Earth. There wasn't a chance that I was going to put the book aside, though, simply because of slow-pacing early on. Even a less-than-favorable narrator couldn't make me leave this story for later. I've only read one other jinni novel that I can recall, but it's clear to me that this new trend, this revival of an old favorite mythological being, is going to be to my liking.

Erin Mallon is not a terrible narrator. I listened to her narrate the entire Sweet trilogy by Wendy Higgins, and she only started to annoy me toward the end of the series. However, I feel that she was badly cast in Exquisite Captive. In fact, she may have been part of the reason I didn't love this novel quite as much as I expected to. I love a narrator who becomes the characters they're portraying, and Mallon just never seems to. She's not just reading the book, but it also seemed like she never connected with the story herself and it showed in her performance. Also, her male voices are kind of ridiculous, but at least she didn't have to affect a fake British accent this time around. I would have much preferred a narrator with a hint of ethnicity, especially considering the diversity of the characters in this story.

The cast of characters in Exquisite Captive is fairly complex, making it hard to truly connect with them or even discern their likability. Questionable motives. Political machinations. A sympathetic villain. I never knew exactly what to expect from any of these characters, and they surprised me more than once. I knew from my experience with Something Real that Heather Demetrios is gifted at creating a really well-drawn, vivid cast of characters, but I might be even more besotted with Nalia and Raif than I was with Patrick and Chloe. Which is saying a lot because I shipped that pairing SO hard.

Nalia is the last remaining member of her people, a powerful line of the jinn with unsurpassed powers. They were the leaders in Arjinna, and now that they are all gone, Nalia is the heir to the throne. Many things stand in her way -- not insignificant, the fact that she doesn't want to be princess and rule the other jinn -- including that she's enslaved here on Earth, complete with a bottle for a cage when she misbehaves. Nalia is not without her faults, and her sense of morality does come into question several times in this book. She's committed heinous acts and she wants no part of the rebellion...until it wants her, and even then, her thoughts are only of escaping her master and freeing her brother, the only family she has left.

But Raif changes her mind, or rather gives her more reasons to fight. Their initial interactions were of a political nature, but it soon became apparent that as much as these two seemed intent on hating each other, theirs was going to be a star-crossed love. First, I don't think I've ever met a character named Raif that I didn't like. They're usually the bad boy with an attitude type, but I'll take a powerful, chiseled, tingly-skin-making jinn any day. Raif is the leader of the rebellion, having taken over the duty when his father was killed. Nalia should be his enemy; she stands for everything he's fighting against. And yet, they cannot deny their attraction.

Malek is quite the enigma for much of the book. He is not the true villain in this story, but he is the immediate threat to Nalia's future. And yet, his feelings toward Nalia have grown into something other than what one would expect from a master/slave relationship. Malek has mistreated Nalia for most of the three years she has been in his service and she will always be beholden to him as her master, yet he's never taken advantage of her and is only now pressing her to explore her own feelings for him. I find Malek's character exceedingly intriguing and darkly sexy in that redeemable villain kind of way.

I thought the introduction of two leading men would result in the ubiquitous love triangle, but the romance here is more complicated than that. One of the men is her master and the other is her sworn enemy. There are obviously reasons why neither of these men should have a future with Nalia, and yet, by the end of the novel, it's clear to which man her heart belongs. I'm not writing off the resurgence of the love triangle in future books, but it would take some serious creative maneuvering to make that a viable arc, considering how quickly and neatly it was packed away in this installment.

Nalia is faced with choices she may not be able to come back from in this book. There's not simply the matter of a rebellion brewing in her homeland, but she must also now free the slaves on the Dark Caravan, in addition to saving her brother. And with the turn of events there at the end, I imagine things are only going to get more difficult for her. I'm anticipating exciting things for the sequel.

GIF it to me straight:
Nalia be like...





About the author:

When she's not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real, which Publisher's Weekly calls “[An] addictive yet thoughtful debut” about reality TV stardom. She is the author of EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles and what Kirkus called in its starred review "an intoxicating, richly realized realm of magic, politics, spirituality and history" (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN CYCLE). She is also the author of the upcoming I’ll Meet You There (Winter 2015). I’ll Meet You There is a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. Heather is the founder of Live Your What, an organization dedicated to fostering passion in people of all ages and creating writing opportunities for underserved youth. She is proud to have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can always find her on Twitter (@HDemetrios), ogling the military dogs she wants to adopt (but can’t because her NYC apartment is way too small). Find out more about Heather and her other books at wwww.heatherdemetrios.com and www.darkcaravancycle.com.

Find Heather:

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5 comments:

  1. sound like a good book, Great Review, I will make sure to add it to my TBR pile

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  2. i am so excited about this book. I have it on audio and now I am questioning if I should read it or listen to it. I am not familiar with the narrator. I only listened to the first Wendy Higgens book and don't remember what impression the narrator gave me. I am glad you liked the book though. great review.

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  3. I'm really intrigued to read this book, great review!

    http://enchantedbyya.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/arc-review-how-we-fall-by-kate-brauning.html

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  4. I really liked the audiobook for this one, the narrator was really good!

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  5. I think that the sequel of this one will be very good...I liked how this was all set up for what comes next :-) I wasn't thrilled with the romance but I enjoyed the story arc and the mythology. Great review Jen!

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