October 25th, 2014

Review: The Fire Wish (Jinni Wars #1) by Amber Lough

The Fire Wish
by Amber Lough

The first book in the Jinni Wars series

Humans and the jinn are at war. Once, they lived side by side, but today the jinn have been driven underground, where they live in elaborate jewel palaces created with their magic. But the jinn fear humanity and long for the open skies above, so they continue to keep tabs on the activities of men and women. A young jinni named Najwa is promoted to the Corps when her superiors learn that she can get past the wards that protect the royal family of Baghdad. On one of her first ventures out, she is caught by Zayale, a princess on her way to Baghdad for an arranged marriage. She grabs Najwa and wishes that the jinni take her place and send her home. Unable to ignore the wish, Najwa sends Zayale away and takes her place as a future bride. But instead of returning to her home village, Zayale finds herself in the city of the jinn, surrounded by people who insist on calling her Najwa. The human and the jinni have nearly identical faces, and when they trade lives they set off a chain of events that can lead to either the reconciliation or total destruction of the two races.

The narration alternates from chapter to chapter between the two main characters, Najwa and Zayale. It starts out slow as their two worlds are laid out. In fact, I almost put the book down and walked away because it was taking so long to get moving. But this paid off later, because the second half of the book starts moving at breakneck speed and if those details hadn't been laid down at the beginning, I surely would have gotten confused.

Najwa and Zayale follow the typical young adult heroine's path: each girl meets an exceptional boy in the other world that she falls in love with almost immediately, and a romance blossoms almost immediately, causing her to fret over how to reveal her secret. Each heroine learns that she is special and capable of things that no one else can do because of a secret, hidden heritage. When the love interest finds out her true identity, he is repulsed, but ultimately comes back to her side because of the power of True Love. This makes the story very predictable because the reader knows exactly what will happen to each girl.

I did enjoy the Middle Eastern setting, which lent this “Prince & Pauper” story an exotic flavor. The jinni here certainly have their roots in the supernatural beings found in The Thousand and One Nights tales, but Lough makes them much more human and accessible to readers. Their underground world and their unusual magic made me want to learn more. I was less interested in events on the surface, but the rich descriptions of the palace's beauty and the lush gardens were very pleasant.

Unfortunately, a beautiful setting, no matter how lovely, can only enchant if the story taking place within it is equally powerful. The Fire Wish was too predictable for me to deeply engage with the characters, and I don't plan to continue with the series. But I think some younger readers just starting to get into young adult novels would be a great audience for these books because they haven't yet become used to the YA heroine formula.

3 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Fire Wish, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: World Book Night 2014: Titles Announced
2012: The Secret Life of Frida Kahlo by F. G. Haghenbeck
2011: Rin-Ne Vol. 1 by Rumiko Takahashi
2010: News: Updating Covers of Classic Kids' Books
2009: 10 Comic Book Series You Need To Read, Part Two
2008: Book Group Expo, Day One