Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demertrios


“She was the roar and the whisper and the stillness. She was nothing. She was everything.”

This is another pull from my large TBR pile from the library. It is based on Arabian Nights, including jinnis, magic wish granting, and decorative bottles. I thought I was getting myself into another retelling, but this one is actually based in its own little world. Honestly, it wasn’t at all what I expected.

My Rating: C+

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

My Thoughts: The title was the first clue that there was going to be something off about this one. Exquisite Captive just sounds like they are fetishing her slavery. My biggest issue with this book is how she has some kind of feelings for her “master” who physically abuses her. This bothered me SO much. It was way too toxic to be in YA. Our main character, Nalia, is quite well-rounded. She’s a bad ass, and she deserves way better than these half-baked romance plots. This could have been taken in so many great directions, except we had to have the stupid romance plot.

What I Liked: The world-building in this was fantastic. I loved that it mixed our world and the world of the jinnis. I liked that it dealt with complex issues like slavery (even though it was romanticized), and that it brought up key moral questions. I even really appreciated most of the characters.

What I Disliked: MALEK. I would have been completely fine with him if he was the villain, except he is not. He is a love interest. There are several points where he physically injures her and she is still having mixed feelings about him. This is absolutely not the type of romance that should be portrayed in YA. On top of that, there was a love triangle. If I wasn’t already angry about the abusive relationship, the love triangle did me in. Why do YA authors feel the need to include these unnecessary love plots to their badass action adventure revolution stories? It will never make sense to me.

Would I recommend it?  No, unless you really really like Arabian themed books and can look past an abusive love triangle.

Is this book on your to-read list? Your thoughts on love triangles? If you could wish for anything what would it be?



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