To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.
The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.
1. Tahereh Mafi comes into her own storytelling
In her reader’s note at the beginning of the copy I received, she says that the stories from her childhood were inspired by Western and Eurocentric mythology, but although she deeply appreciates and cherishes those stories, that kept her from exploring and expressing her own heritage. With the purpose of, in her words, “relearning [herself], reclaiming [her] voice, and recognizing the value of [her] own perspective]”, she crafted This Woven Kingdom, which is inspired by the Shahnameh, by the Persian poet Ferdowsi, as well as Islamic stories of the Jinn.
2. Slow-burn/forbidden romance
I adore a slow-burn/forbidden romance storyline: pining, angst, tension… all my favorite words. I did see throughout their relationship though, that their romance just makes sense within the course of the story, and I was rooting for them every step of the way. Though Kamran, the crown prince, has things to reflect on, he often did, and it helped their relationship. And he is VERY into her, which I am all for.
3. A fairytale feel
When I was reading, I saw glimpses of fairytale archetypes that were familiar to me, including a girl of a lower social caste being paired with someone of royalty, and along with that, the questions of life satisfaction and the implications of casteism. These themes along with the slow-burn romance, and the inspirations that Tahereh Mafi drew from, all contributed to a world and story that transported me to somewhere new (which I totally needed).
4. Detailed and accessible world building
Okay, if you have ever talked to me, you know that I really struggle with world building in worlds that are not our current world (not that our current world is my favorite, but y’know). It takes a lot of mental energy for me to piece things together, but I did not find the world that Tahereh Mafi built difficult at all, and I was immediately immersed in the story. I would love to pinpoint exactly why or how she did that, but it is just ~a vibe~ and that’s okay. I’m just saying that if you struggle with world building like me, this book is definitely a contender!
5. Alizeh’s character construction
I loved Alizeh from the first page, because while some may describe her as a classic “strong heroine”, I think there there was strength in her softness, and embracing that not everyone has to be exceptional to be loved and valued. She specified that she was content with living a life that wasn’t particularly glamorous, as long as she was happy, and that it’s not that she underwent a ton of change, but that she cultivated her worth in a society that did not value someone of her background.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: Alizeh, a young Jinn girl who is a servant, works for royalty, and is grappling with the death of her parents, and being discriminated against, when she meets Prince Kamran, and they figure out their romantic feelings while also dealing with the societal implications of their identities and family lines.
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Trigger/content warning: on the page violence, abuse, death of a family member