Spoiler Free Review: The Adventures Of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

Title:  The Adventures Of Amina Al-Sirafi

Author: Shannon Chakraborty

Pub. Date: February 28th. 2023

Genre: Fantasy

Format: eARC

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 483


☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆

╰☆☆ “𝙵𝚘𝚛 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚜𝚌𝚛𝚒𝚋𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚜 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚍 𝚊 𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝 𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚜𝚎 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚝𝚜 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚊𝚔𝚎𝚗 𝚊𝚠𝚊𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚕𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚘𝚗: 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚊 𝚠𝚘𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚒𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚢 𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚛𝚎𝚖𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚍. 𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚌𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚎𝚍. 𝚃𝚠𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚍.” ☆☆╮

When I first heard we were getting a story with a middle aged single mother who was a renowned fearless Pirate…I smiled, nodded and paired it with a fist pump! We get a healthy balance of plot + character growth in this seafaring adventure full of excitement and world building. Admittedly the first 40% is a bit slow + that’s because our girl is in retirement! After several husbands, backstabbing rogues and an actual demon…she’s spending time with her child and mother on some remote island far away from all of the enemies she’s accumulated over the years as a Pirate in the Indian Ocean. When the mother of a former crew member finds her and pleads her case for aid in finding her kidnapped grandchild, Amina sets out to get the old gang back together again on her ship. Dalila, Majed, Tinbu, the Scribe and another character (I won’t mention their name as it is spoilery) make a phenomenal supporting cast. The queer representation felt organic and I personally would love a Tinbu novella *fingers crossed*

We follow Amina as she recruits her crew members back and it’s been 10 years, they’re all feeling a little worse for wear. That being said, they also share one thing in common and that’s that they miss the high seas/high stakes adventures that comes with Amina at the helm. This job also comes with a promised hefty pay-off, one that  can truly secure their retirement. In this world there are stories of Djinn and Gods/Goddesses and before venturing out on this last journey, that’s all they were to Amina…Just stories. The life of a Pirate has enough challenges but things get all the more interesting when those stories filled with magical beings become your reality. 

Slow to start while the troops are being rallied, This is one you just have to trust that you’re in for a good time. I thoroughly enjoyed Amina seeking out each of her crew members out from their hidey holes (haha!) because it provided the opportunity for their backstory. This led to each crew member being well fleshed out and easily imagined with personalities that are quite distinct from one another. Amina is at the very start telling her tale to a scribe and with that come challenges to decisions she made that probably weren’t the best. That is where the humor shines and we get GRADE A SNARK! Amina dishes it out and I ate it up! In fact I’ve heard that the audiobook narration really delivers on those one liners our girl Amina was quipping. I will absolutely be doing a tandem read with the audiobook when it’s time for a re-read. Also, as a Fantasy reader I love jumping into a freshly made up magic system and setting like the rest of us. However, I have found that I enjoy a Fantasy ten times more when it draws inspiration from History or recreates it as best possible. In the preface, Chakraborty states that she tried to stay true to the history of the 12th century Islamic societies of the northwestern Indian Ocean but it’s still Fiction. I loved seeing the representation of various religious beliefs in her characters, religion as a whole is an important theme in this story. Amina is a Muslim woman trying to get back on track with her religion and acknowledges where she falls short. Her crew members have their own differing religious beliefs and we see Amina try and respectfully understand theirs as they respect her own. It truly was beautiful to see this found family not only co-exist with one another but also honor each other’s beliefs. I am eagerly anticipating another adventure with Amina and her crew!


Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBooks

The Story Graph: LairOfBooks

Librofm Referral Code

Spoiler Free Review: Kingdom Of Souls by Rena Barron

Title: Kingdom Of Souls (Kingdom Of Souls #1)

Author: Rena Barron

Pub. Date: September 19th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 496

Format: eARC


 🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is exactly the type of YA Fantasy I look forward to reading whenever I pick up a debut author. On the YA scale this definitely leans more towards darker & more mature, it will appeal to those who enjoy adult Fantasy. Inspired by the authors West African ancestors, the world in which Kingdom of Souls is set in is very expansive. The magic system & world building is detailed and complex, the characters are multi-faceted as are their deities. At the center of the story we have Arrah who is the daughter of a High Priestess & Witch Doctor. In this world you come into your magical abilities between the ages of 0-16. However, Arrah hasn’t seen not even a stirring of her magic and fears that this will make her an outcast.

“I’m sixteen, near grown by both kingdom & tribal standards. My time is running out. No daughter or son of any tribe has come into their gifts beyond my age. if it doesn’t happen this year, it won’t happen at all.”

 The five tribes in this land were said to have been gifted their magic by Heka who is their God. We follow Arrah as she attends celebrations for those who are coming into their powers in hopes she too will blessed by Heka. Her entire family carries powerful magic within but it’s her mother Arti alone who cannot accept Arrah’s lack of magic. Their strained and toxic relationship plays out throughout this book in a way I’ve never seen written before. We see Arrah have a very different & nurturing relationship with her father who tries to get her to understand that magic is not the end all be all. In the midst of it all we learn of children that have gone missing and a  Demon King who is rising. This all serves to give Arrah an intense sense of urgency. She sets out to find other more dangerous ways to obtain magic in order to defend & protect her people. This of course bears a steep price to pay, an unknown amount of years shed from your life in exchange for magic. Arrah is determined to do whatever it takes to stop children from going missing & the Demon King from from fully coming into power.

This year has seen many debut YA Fantasies hit the shelves with all sorts of original stories & diverse sets of characters. I LOVED that this world although fantastical, is West African inspired with a cast of all black main characters. I also have a very HIGH appreciation for authors who steer clear of info dumping & instead deliver complex world building in a way that says they trust their readers. I never got tired of the story or lost interest, the only thing I would’ve liked to have seen is an index of some sort to keep track of all the tribes in this world & the deities. I can easily see (or at least I hope) this being a ongoing series because of how rich the world building is. I also loved seeing how much support Arrah really had even when she thought she was alone. I did NOT see that last portion of the book coming! it left me reeling for days wondering where these characters will go from here. It did not surprise me one bit to hear Kingdom of Souls has been picked up by Warner Brothers studios (see here) & will be produced by Michael B. Jordan. I will definitely be picking up the next installment in this trilogy.


Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook