Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Book 1 of the EpicReads Decathlon, CHECK!
So Exquisite Captive is one of the books I’ve had on my shelf since it came out and never got a chance to read (given that said shelf is now 94 books strong, I hope you’ll all forgive me) but also one of the ones I should have just read when I bought it. It’s exquisite.
First of all, props to Heather Demetrios for having such an incredible talent with words. The writing is beautiful, elegant, poetic. Demetrios weaves her figurative language into the very fabric of the novel making everything all the more vivid. You don’t just imagine what you’re reading and create a picture in your mind, you feel it, hear it, smell it, taste it. It is a rare and wonderful thing to stumble across writing like this. It took me a little longer to finish than I’d expected (the plot itself gets kinda slow once you’re partway through) but 100% worth it for the language!
I very, very much enjoyed the world Demetrios created. On one side of things, it’s ordinary, typical LA; on the other, it’s brimming with magic and wishes and slave trades. The culture of the Jinni’s and their world come alive in hookah lounges, stories, precious stones, speech, and more. It’s visible, vivid, vibrant. It’s also something that, in my personal reading experience, has not been a major focus for a whole lot of books out there (though yes, I know there are quite a few and their numbers are growing). Exquisite Captive is the first book–first anything, actually–I’ve read on the topic of Jinni and all that Moroccan magical stuff. It makes me want to read more. Lots more. Oodles and oodles more.
Welcome to the family, my newest obsession! I’m sure you’ll fit right in.
I quite liked Nalia as the heroine. She’s headstrong, brave, feisty–sometimes a little too feisty (even better!)–and determined. Overall, she’s great. There are however a few instances where she takes her dear sweet time sorting things out which inevitably becomes annoying.
Raif… I loved Raif. Raif set me on fire. What’s funny is I can’t even explain why just oh, my gosh, guys. I urge you all to report back to me once you read the dancing part in the lounge place. Please. Pretty please. I am very much not okay. He cools down a bit in the second half of the book though and their whole thing gets slightly irksome because their romance turns kind of all-consuming.
A question for all of you insta-love haters: does gradual insta-love or sudden non-insta love fall under the same classification? It doesn’t happen right away or at first sight or anything but when it does start happening it is fast and it is strong. Indulge at your own discretion.
Another word on the romance: it’s a wee bit of a love triangle with Malek and Raif. The whole thing with Malek and Nalia is confusing and, at times, borders on abusive (remember, he’s still her master and she’s still his slave). The way that whole part works is kind of fascinating but I wanted to put the warning out there in case someone is seriously bothered by it (which is totally 100% okay!) so you know what you’re getting into. Again, indulge at your own discretion.
I won’t explain much of Malek since he’s the kind of character you really need to read for yourself to fully understand but I will say this: he is the perfect blend of creepy and charming. You know how sometimes the “bad guy” (maybe?) can be immediately written off before the MC even processes things? This is not one of those times. In fact, it’s lightyears away from being one of those times.. Even when Nalia is only slightly conflicted, I was LITERALLY FREAKING OUT LIKE WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN, MALEK? HUH? HUH?!
Plus, the concept of the story (despite the slowness) was, as my roommate would say, bomb AF.
All things considered, I really did enjoy Exquisite Captive. There were, of course, some things that could have been tweaked (faster-paced, less weirdly all-consuming hits-you-like-a-truck romance) but in it’s entirety, the novel was very well done.
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!