Summer weather is officially here and with it comes the desire to travel. Unfortunately, some of us won’t get to go on vacation and discover the world for too long because… well, adulting and other grown up stuff getting in the way. But worry not! Luckily we have some amazing books to help us escape, and today I bring you two that are on my top 50 favorite reads (it’s hard to have favorites!). These books have it all: fantasy, magic, love, and a different world! Who says you need to leave your couch to be able to travel?
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Nahri lives in 18th Century Cairo and having been alone her whole life, she has learned to use her wits and trickery to make a living. It turns out Nahri is no ordinary girl and when she tries to complete what she thinks is a fake ritual, she actually summons a Demon along with a Djinn — a beautiful and dreamy Djinn named Dara who also happens to be the only person who knows about her heritage. So together they embark on a dangerous journey towards Daevabad, a city where different tribes and Djinns coexist and where Nahri hopes to learn more about her past and family.
Throughout the book we also get the POV of Prince Ali of Daevabad. There is never just one side to any story, but one thing Ali can see very clearly is the thin line between tyranny and patriotism. While his father, the King, and his brother are more concerned about politics and keeping peace between the tribes no matter the cost, Ali has a higher calling and does everything in his power to help those tribes who have become the underdog under his father’s rule. The problem? His brother will soon inherit the crown and Ali is being trained to become his brother’s executioner. Now he will have to learn to play the game of politics if he wants to find justice without being accused of treason.
Once Nahri and Ali meet, the story turns into one of betrayal, secrets, politics and plot twists! And I did promise you love didn’t I? Well there is! But nothing in this story is easy, not even love! So unless you want spoilers, you will have to read the book!
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
“On the second Sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.”
Remember this phrase because it is the gate to a world full of “wonderful monsters”.
Lazlo is an orphan working in the best place in the world, a library! He might only be a helper but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming. He is a bookworm with a gentle soul, and he is the only person who seems to remember the stories about the City of Weep. Convinced that this magical place is not a figment of his imagination, Lazlo spends his days reading every book in the library searching for any clue that might reference to the city. Then one day, a special opportunity presents itself and a wonderful journey begins.
In the meanwhile, we also hear from Sarai, a blue-skinned godspawn trapped in a floating city and she isn’t alone. Minya, one of the other godspawns, refuses to forget what the humans did to her people. She is wrathful, bitter, and thirsty for revenge; she will not allow Sarai to move on with her life and forces her to use her beautiful gift to torment the citizens that live down below. But it is while doing just that when Sarai finally sees Lazlo and everything changes – everything except Minya’s vengeful spirit who will always put her need for revenge before anyone’s happiness.
As a little parenthesis, let me just add that I am not the biggest fan of instalove. I totally get instalust but not instalove, and there is no other trope I dislike as much as that one (although the “she’s beautiful but doesn’t even realize it” trope is not too far behind). However, there is instalove and then there is passionate, all-consuming, head-over-heels love at first sight and I AM SO HERE FOR THAT TYPE OF LOVE. And if you like it as much as I do then Strange the Dreamer is the perfect book for you.
You can’t go wrong with either of these two options this summer! Both S.A. Chakraborty and Laini Taylor have conceived vibrant worlds full of romance, magic, djinns and gods. I would also like to note the superb job both authors have done in terms of diversity. It is clear that S.A. Chakraborty is an expert in Medieval Middle Eastern History; she is able to completely transport the readers to Egypt. Laini Taylor depicts the otherness of her characters in a magical way, and one cannot talk about her book without mentioning its poetic language that enchants you from page one.
And Voilà! Those are the two books I believe will take you away! And their respective sequels are already out so you don’t even need to wait to know what happens next!
Happy summer reading!