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Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Monday, September 22, 2014


Exquisite Captive
Heather Demetrios

Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Hardback: 480 Pages
Publication: October 7, 2014
by Balzer & Bray



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?


Review

The world of Exquisite Captive is fascinating. I love the concept of a world of djinn and how the Dark Caravan (the djinn slave trade) links their world with the human world. As the story takes place in our time, it's especially intriguing to see how djinn magic is integrated into modern society. What could have made the story would have been the characters and the story they had to tell. As it is, the story could have used more fleshing out, especially with the characters, their backstory, and their motivations.

Exquisite Captive is told in third-person perspective alternating between Nalia and Raif with the occasional chapter detailing a serial killing of female djinn around the world. I like how the multiple POVs gives us an idea of what is happening on different fronts. Nevertheless, it didn't feel like it was necessary, like I could have gotten the story just as well if only Nalia's perspective had been given. Maybe even better considering how poorly the characters were developed. The addition of Raif's perspective didn't lend extra suspense or mystery to the story. It was just there. And I definitely would have been happy if the killer's perspective was left out. It was *disgusting disgusting disgusting* I get that it's supposed to horrify us, but the grossing-me-out part aside, it felt like a bad sideshow theater that popped up here and there without warning, and it didn't make me feel scared for Nalia until the last two killings, which I guess the earlier killings set up? Anyhow, I just wasn't feeling it.

From the beginning, I never really felt a connection with Nalia, or any of the characters for that matter, the problem being that they are inconsistent. For example, Nalia will feel helpless one second, then stand up for herself the next, only to crumble before yet another obstacle standing in her way. She also doesn't seem to know how she feels about Malek given how one moment she'll hate him for the way he's tormented her in the past and the next she wants to kiss him. Of course, there's also frustrating Raif who unlocks a world of emotion for her from one touch. . . and she's only just met him. As cool as I think Raif is, it definitely would have helped the romance angle if he and Nalia spent more time getting to know each other instead of trying to hate each other. The same goes for Malek. I don't know what that guy is thinking. Honestly, it seems like the author is trying to make him act like a bad guy, so there's a reason for Nalia to choose Raif.

Besides these points, there are a lot of inconsistencies and lack of adequate motivation / explanation for the characters to choose the courses of action that they do. A good example of this is the quest that Raif and his sister are on. They make this item seem like it holds all the potential to save the djinn from the terrible reign of the Ifrit, yet they don't fully discuss the potential consequences of bringing such an item to light. And Nalia. She made an oath that Raif and his sister want her to break, and she thinks about all of the reasons not to break her oath. Then one thought about her brother, and she decides that it's worth potentially damning the rest of the world to save him. In another world, maybe this could have made sense, but it doesn't seem like these characters spend much time thinking out what they want to do. The lack of consistency makes it hard to connect with them.

My biggest problem with this story, character aside, is how there isn't much action. Other than the fact that Nalia spends most of the book trying to figure out how to steal her bottle from Malek, it feels like the story is about the romance, and Nalia trying to seduce Malek to get her bottle is for gratuitous pleasure. I mean, for someone who's supposed to hate Malek, Nalia was pretty quick to jump onto this idea. Even if Malek's sudden interest in her seems to lead up to this, I would've expected Nalia to try and think of some other ideas before choosing this one. On top of that, there isn't much strategic planning or talk of important matters around Raif; rather, their meetings seem to be about the sexual tension between the two and how much they frustrate the other.

Frankly, I considered dnfing this book early on because of the characters, and I probably would have somewhere. However, there was was enough here to convince me to give the whole of the novel a try, and there were pieces that I enjoyed even if the events leading up to them didn't make much sense. While this book ended up being just an okay book, I do see potential for more expansion of the world and characters in the next installment.

An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 2 stars

Series
  1. Exquisite Captive
  2. Blood Passage
  3. Freedom's Slave

Content
  • Kissing
  • Seduction
  • Violence, torture

3 comments on "Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios"
  1. The world sounds interesting but sad to hear that it wasn't easy to invest in the characters

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with all of this. I'd had high hopes but...it just didn't work for me. I didn't like the sadistic/abusive relationship with her "master". Kind of skeeved me out, actually.

    ReplyDelete

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