ARC Review – The Jasad Heir

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem, which is out today in the U.S. I was excited to get an early copy of this one. Just look at that cover!!!

Ten years ago, the kingdom of Jasad burned. Its magic outlawed; its royal family murdered down to the last child. At least, that’s what Sylvia wants people to believe.

The lost Heir of Jasad, Sylvia never wants to be found. She can’t think about how Nizahl’s armies laid waste to her kingdom and continue to hunt its people—not if she wants to stay alive. But when Arin, the Nizahl Heir, tracks a group of Jasadi rebels to her village, staying one step ahead of death gets trickier.

In a moment of anger Sylvia’s magic is exposed, capturing Arin’s attention. Now, to save her life, Sylvia will have to make a deal with her greatest enemy. If she helps him lure the rebels, she’ll escape persecution.

A deadly game begins. Sylvia can’t let Arin discover her identity even as hatred shifts into something more. Soon, Sylvia will have to choose between the life she wants and the one she left behind. The scorched kingdom is rising, and it needs a queen.

In this Egyptian-inspired debut fantasy, a fugitive queen strikes a deadly bargain with her greatest enemy and finds herself embroiled in a complex game that could resurrect her scorched kingdom or leave it in ashes forever.

***Thank you to Orbit Books for providing an advanced copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This book was SO GOOD! The tension. The angst. The secrets. The forbidden romance. It was the perfect combination, and I was hooked. The story also had so many of my favorite tropes, including dwindling magic, reluctant hero, and a contest of champions. I really loved the way the author utilized the unreliable narrator to slowly ratchet up the tension while also giving peeks into the complex history of this world that the main character would rather forget. It was truly brilliant and kept me on edge wondering what would be revealed next.

Sylvia was such an intriguing character. Her characterization was my favorite thing about this book. She was so complex. Her concept of self was a bit of a mess because the warring pieces of her psyche wanted very different things. Matters were complicated even further by her history of trauma, which caused her to experience selective amnesia. As a result, we slowly learned the things she’d forced herself to forget. It was fascinating to watch her assemble the pieces of her history and, as a result of this new understanding, stitch herself into a whole, new person with parts of both Sylvia and Essiya.

Arin was both similar to Sylvia and her complete opposite. So much of his personality was also the direct result of trauma. Rather than splitting into pieces and not caring about anything but himself, Arin solidified his identity around his national heritage and became militant in his beliefs about himself and his role. Much like Sylvia, he also closed himself off from others and established a strong need for control. The two of them together created such a riveting dynamic. She slowly chipped away at his regimented iciness while he helped create the necessary conditions for her to confront the past and forge a new version of herself. They had great banter and bounced off one another really well. The author did a fantastic job of crafting a slow stoking of the thick romantic tension between the two, and I ate it up. lol. I’m really curious to see how their relationship plays out in the next book. I have a feeling Arin will continue to have his rigid beliefs unravel in a mirroring of Sylvia’s arc in this book, but we’ll see.

I loved what the author did with the themes in this book. I was fascinated by its exploration of how our viewpoints can shape our understanding of historical facts and lead people to commit atrocities. It illustrated how nothing is quite as black and white as our beliefs may make them seem. At the beginning of the story, I thought I had a firm understanding of who the ‘enemy’ in the conflict would be. As Sylvia remembered and learned more about her past, the shades of gray became dominant and made me re-think my position multiple times. That’s not to say that the genocide portrayed in the book was excusable, but it definitely made it more understandable. I look forward to seeing what happens with these themes in the next book. Sylvia now has a huge decision to make about whether she will continue the cycle of violence and jockeying for power, and I wonder how the things she learned about her family and country in this story will influence her decisions.

Overall, this was a fascinating read with great characters, rich culture and world-building, and an impressive nuance in its exploration of powerful themes. I was on the edge of my seat for most of this story, and I cannot wait to dive back into this world for the sequel. Therefore, I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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