Books like these are why I adore fantasy with all of my heart. A pirate queen cajoled out of retirement for one last payout. A deadly sea with supernatural consequences. And a myth in the making.
Narrative voice: ★★★★★
The Adventures of Amina Al-Sarafi reads like one of those great myths that creep up on your slowly. As your parents, schoolmates, books, and media tell it to you—it's almost like it's always been there, a fictional story existing outside of your own lived existence and yet wholly real somehow, grounded in historical fact and cultural relevancy.
To put it even more simply: Mention the concept of "greek gods" to almost anyone on the street these days and they have the story already. They know the strokes, or they know at least several small details that have made it into their brain via cultural osmosis.
When I read Amina's tale for the first time, I felt that stirring. That behemoth feeling in the deep that this is a tale that's more real than fiction, more muchness than just a fable told to mimic the 1100s Indian Ocean tales for a 2020s audience.
Like the best fantasy tales of new and old—Amina Al-Sarafi is here now, and she's always been here and always will be here. Her tale is too rich to ignore.
Combining elements of seafaring adventure, heists, monsters, and more, The Adventures of Amina Al-Sarafi struck me most in its unique and unputdownable voice. Amina's no-nonsense, middle-aged motherhood persona was a treat in its (unfortunate) uniqueness in today's fantasy market and also a hilarious narrator in her endless dry wit and "let me tell you how bad things went to shit" attitude.
There is nothing I did not like about this story. It stands proudly in the canon besides Chakraborty's already titanic City of Brass trilogy, and other fantasy legacies such as R.F. Kuang, Fonda Lee, Jacqueline Carey, Jenn Lyons, and more.
Oh, and there's the swashbuckling, seafaring, mythologically induced adventures with all of the plot points you could possibly want rolled into the most attractive package to any fantasy fan. I enjoyed the hell out of myself. I think others will too.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.