Azad's debut YA fantasy is set in a city along the Silk Road that is a refuge for those of all faiths, where a young woman is threatened by the war between two clans of powerful djinn.Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.In this William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist novel, Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.
In this historical fantasy, a Silk Road adjacent city is populated by myriad human cultures, as well as the order-upholding Ifrit tribe of Djinn. Fatima is transformed into a human-Djinn hybrid after she unexpectedly inherits her mentor's power. Already noteworthy for surviving a terrible massacre years ago, she must now accept her role as the Name Giver, charged with naming any Djinn who wish to take on mortal form. Drawn into both mortal and supernatural politics, and unexpectedly attracted to the mysterious Zulfikar, the Ifrit Emir of Noor City, Fatima must master her powers while balancing her new role with her relationships to friends and family. Though the exposition can initially feel heavy and the narrative voice, distant, Azad makes a strong debut with this vibrant, lushly described tale that weaves elements of magic, mystery, and romance together with richness of language ("The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too"). Ages 12 up.