We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Reviews of Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

Spice Road

Spice Road #1

by Maiya Ibrahim

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim X
Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 464 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 23, 2024, 464 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The first book in an epic fantasy series set in an Arabian-inspired land with secret spice magic. Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, sixteen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother, whose betrayal is now the country's greatest threat.

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, there is secret spice magic that awakens the affinities of those who drink the misra tea. Sixteen-year-old Imani has the affinity for iron and is able to wield a dagger like no other warrior. She has garnered the reputation as being the next great Shield for battling djinn, ghouls, and other monsters spreading across the sands. 

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother, who tarnished the family name after it was revealed that he was stealing his nation's coveted spice—a telltale sign of magical obsession. Soon after that, he disappeared, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes. Despite her brother's betrayal, there isn't a day that goes by when Imani doesn't grieve him.   

But when Imani discovers signs that her brother may be alive and spreading the nation's magic to outsiders, she makes a deal with the Council that she will find him and bring him back to Qalia, where he will face punishment. Accompanied by other Shields, including Taha, a powerful beastseer who can control the minds of falcons, she sets out on her mission.   

Imani will soon find that many secrets lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes—and in her own heart—but will she find her brother?

1

We will fight, but first we will have tea.

Not quite the motto of the Shields, but just as apt. Ordinarily I would be outside Qalia's walls with my squad, defending our lands from a never-ending onslaught of monsters: djinn, ghouls, sand serpents, and whatever other nightmare one can only conjure in the clutches of a fever dream. But even now, when we are home on mandated rest, we are facing a hard day of training—and I am certain Taha ibn Bayek of the Al-Baz clan can't wait.

Whenever we are in Qalia's barracks together, Taha's squadmates challenge me to spar him. It is a pathetic attempt at settling which of us is the better Shield, but Taha himself has never commented on the ongoing rivalry. In fact, for the two years I've known him, Taha has acted as if I don't exist, apart from the occasional snide comment. I've no doubt his squadmates will try again after the tea ceremony, but I have rejected their other challenges as a waste of my time, and I am not about to have a change of...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Maiya Ibrahim effectively uses small details to help create a setting that feels entirely real. Readers will feel the heat and emptiness of the Forbidden Wastes, smell the myriad spices in the bazaar and shudder at the brokenness and despair of those whose lives have been destroyed by war. Ibrahim has written a wonderful debut filled with unique magic, vivid imagery, and extensive worldbuilding that will appeal to fans of fantasy, strong female leads, and unbreakable family bonds...continued

Full Review Members Only (818 words)

(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Review (starred review)
A beautifully written, surprise-filled page-turner.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Overflowing with culturally specific details and set in a fictional, Arabian-inspired world, this high-octane adventure maintains a steady clip toward a scintillating conclusion.

Booklist
With luscious imagery, Spice Road easily draws readers into the desert world and doesn't let go until the very last page...undeniably good writing

Author Blurb Amélie Wen Zhao, author of Blood Heir
With an enchanting world of tea magic and desert monsters and a thrilling quest helmed by a girl whose wit is sharper than her blades, Maiya Ibrahim's Spice Road is a fantasy you don't want to miss.

Author Blurb Ayana Gray, New York Times bestselling author of Beasts of Prey
An epic, sandswept adventure.

Author Blurb Claire M. Andrews, author of the Daughter of Sparta trilogy
A rich, fresh-voiced fantasy, Ibrahim weaves a masterful tale of family and adventure. Readers will devour the pages like a perfectly spiced tea and be left burning for more.

Author Blurb Dana Swift, author of Cast in Firelight
Secrets, scorching betrayals, and a spellbinding magic system.

Reader Reviews

Shaza

A very good conclusion
This seems to be a great book.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Healing Properties of Tea

Spice Road, the debut novel by Maiya Ibrahim, features the Shields, a group of warriors sworn to protect the desert city of Qalia from magical beings and monsters. These warriors are gifted with magical abilities to perform their duties, but these powers only manifest when they drink misra, an ancient tea gifted to the people of Qalia. Misra tea's supernatural powers may be fictional, but scientists have discovered that tea does offer "superpowers" in the form of health benefits for the drinker.

Camellia sinensisNot to be confused with herbal infusions, which are often labeled "tea," true tea, regardless of type, is traditionally prepared by pouring hot water over the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, or tea plant. Different preparations produce ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Spice Road, try these:

  • Strike the Zither jacket

    Strike the Zither

    by Joan He

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    A dazzling new fantasy from New York Times and Indie bestselling author Joan He, Strike the Zither is a powerful, inventive, and sweeping fantasy that reimagines the Chinese classic tale of the Three Kingdoms.

  • Children of Blood and Bone jacket

    Children of Blood and Bone

    by Tomi Adeyemi

    Published 2019

    About this book

    Winner of the 2018 BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel

    Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Read-Alikes are one of the many benefits of membership. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...
  • Book Jacket: Wild and Distant Seas
    Wild and Distant Seas
    by Tara Karr Roberts
    Tara Karr Roberts is a newspaper columnist who also teaches English and journalism. Wild and Distant...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.