Book Reviews

Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

2023 seems to be the year for duology beginnings and I am here for it! And talk about a duology series starter that has action, family, and conspiracy. I cannot wait to see where this one goes next! Keep reading this book review of Spice Road for my full thoughts.


In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic awakens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation’s coveted spice – a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief.

But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation’s magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city’s location. Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission.

Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes – and in her own heart – but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

One of the things I loved from the beginning of Spice Road was the magic system. I loved this idea of spices and magic not to mention that it’s just a taste of what is to come! As I kept reading, I kept falling in love with more of the magic and the intrigue. To see more sneak peeks into what is to come and I am so excited for the sequel! But I think that ended up intriguing me the most was the conspiracy. The ways in which Imani has to question what she was told and what she believes in.

It immediately sets the tone of the book not only because Imani doesn’t believe her brother is guilty, but also some more sinister. More insidious. Throughout Spice Road, Imani has to question everything she has been told. And, what truly also resonated with me, is that Imani is forced to confront her own privilege and status. So while there’s this heavy current of action which sets the tone of Spice Road, there are these conversations and thoughts ruminating. I love when a character is forced to sit with a difficult truth.

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While there were a few moments when the action lulled a little and felt a bit floundering, as a whole, I began to want to read for Imani. For the ways she has to question the choices we make. The principles and causes we will die for. The inequality that surrounds us – even if we never saw it. And I’m so glad I ended up finishing because around 50% the book became difficult for me to put down and don’t even get me started on that ending! Find Spice Road on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Do you have a favorite unique magic system?

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