Friday, June 9, 2023

Happy Birthday, The Kingdom Over the Sea by Zohra Nabi

I have my birthday hat on again because it's time to celebrate the release of another read! These book birthdays just keep rolling in...which is great, especially since this is the beginning of summer vacation for quite a few schools...and the beginning of the reading programs at the local libraries. So, it's the perfect time for young readers to pick up a new read and dive in. (I'm not joking. As a kid, I would have loved seeing the 'new' list).

Today's read should be a real treat. The cover caught my attention with its sense of exotic excitement...and a flying carpet! I've always wished to have one as well as a jar of fairy dust (which I'm still searching for). It's been getting great buzz, too. 

 As a sneak peek at my review: it's going onto my possible Favorites of 2023 list! (Yep, it's that much fun)

by Zohra Nabi
Margaret K McElderry Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
336 pages
ages 8 to 12

Aru Shah meets One Thousand and One Nights in this lavish middle grade adventure following a girl who must travel to a mystical land of sorceresses, alchemists, jinn, and flying carpets to discover her heritage and fulfill her destiny.

My own Yara, if you are reading this, then something terrible has happened, and you are on your own. To return to the city of Zehaira, you must read out the words on the back of this letter… Good luck, my brave girl.

When twelve-year-old Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map—Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme—and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach.

Yara must summon all her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity…and to find her place in this magical new world.

GOODREADS   /    B&N    /    KOBO    /    AMAZON


Imagination, adventure, family, and friendship whirl to form an exciting world, where magic meets sinister schemes.

If her mother's death wasn't enough to flip Yara's world upside-down, the letter her mother left behind made sure it was. Following the instructions, Yara leaves her home in our world and portals back to her true home, Zehaira. There she must not only find footing in her own world, but realizes there are more secrets than she suspected...and some of these threaten to destroy everything.

This is a fantastic ride into a vibrant world with magic, djinn, sorcerers and more. The world is very rich and brings something amazing at every turn. It was fun to get lost in the pages and wish it truly existed. The author does an amazing job at bringing this unique realm to life. Add the great cast of characters with their quirks, and it's no problem to sink right in and want to stay.

Yara has a good sense of right and wrong, and is ready to fight for what she believes in. Still, she's hesitant, at times, and does require assistance and guidance. It makes her easy to root for and sympathize with. Mixed with a sense of family and the forming of wonderful friendships, this creates a heart-warming atmosphere as well. Still, that doesn't mean the action suffers. It doesn't. There is quite a bit going on in these pages as Yara faces all sorts of situations. The mystery concerning her identity is also well-laid and very hard to guess. Plus, the world and the more evil plots keep her on her toes, too. 

It was a treat to dive into such a rich fantasy world and simply get lost in the story. It's clear that there is so much more to come, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

There's a nice excerpt you can take a peek at over on the Simon & Schuster page here, which gives a very good impression of the style of the tale and writing.

And here she is...

Zohra Nabi grew up inventing stories for her two younger sisters. She studied law at Cambridge and Oxford universities, but secretly dreamed of being an author. Now she lives in London, browsing bookshops and writing magical adventures. The Kingdom over the Sea is her first book.

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