SA Chakraborty: City of Brass

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass–a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for.

This review is a birthday gift to myself–even if I did read the book a week ago. It’s certainly one of my favorites of the entire year. The story is thrilling, the characters are all amazingly developed. YES YES YES.

Let me first say–this book is full of culture that I am absolutely not familiar with. The only reference point for jinn (or djinn, as it is spelled here) is 1) Aladdin and 2) more recently American Gods. So I really don’t have anything to compare the djinn in City of Brass to, to know how much is real legend/lore vs how much is made up fiction.

HOWEVER, the worldbuilding is wonderfully complete. You immediately dive into this slick thieving underground of Cairo that Nahri is living in, get to learn her methods, and the story just blossoms from there. Everything is completely believable from the moment you step into the book.

Is it weird to say that I was so transported at times that I found my real body shivering because it’s a whole lot colder in my house than in fiery Daevabad?

I need you to go read this book as soon as possible, so I have someone to yell about it with. And I’m definitely putting the second one on my watch list. Trust me, you won’t be able to put this gorgeous book down. Sometimes stunning covers outshine their middles, but this one absolutely lives up to every bit of gold filigree.

HarperCollins provided a copy of this book for unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.


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