Sixteen-year-old Isra Kalb has grown up starving in the slums of Islamabad. But hunger is only the beginning. When her father is mysteriously murdered and madness corrupts her mother's mind, she's left alone to fend for herself and her sister. Homeless and destitute, the only thing she has to remember her loving family by is a commonplace necklace--an amulet barely worth keeping.
Or so she thinks.
Swept into a web of lies, deceit and turmoil, Isra struggles to find a place for herself and Zaffirah, wondering if the strange creatures and visions she's seeing are indications of the madness that took her mother. But when Snatchers capture Zaffirah, Isra learns her amulet isn't so useless after all. Transported to Zarcane--the beastly garden where Adam and Eve were born--Isra comes face to face with her destiny. She's a Keeper, charged with protecting the borders of Zarcane and keeping the demon hordes lurking in the shadows from taking realms that are not their own. And she's not the only one; there's a second Keeper, a boy whose identity hasn't been revealed.
Now, in order to save her sister and fulfill her family's legacy as Keeper of the Amulet, she has to find the second Keeper and close the borders. Surrounded by betrayal, trapped between warring factions of angels, and desperate to save the only family she has left, Isra must decide:
Who can she trust when nothing is what it seems?
I think the story started off good, with a pivotal event that left you intrigued. One that would affect the main character, Isra, in a huge way. During the start, there was a moment of flashbacks which I thought was a little confusing. I couldn't help but feel like that part was a little more awkward than I would have liked but it quickly smoothed out in the end since there were no more flashbacks after that.
The pacing is decent and leaves you with cliffhangers at the end of most of the chapters, especially at the end which was suspenseful. The writing was ok but it was simple. It lacked the lyrical prose I've been used to reading lately. I felt like it could have been a little more polished but seeing as it is the author's debut YA novel and Ms. Lalani is still in high school, I'm willing to overlook it. I have seen better execution of stories though, but nothing a little more work won't solve.
One of the things I loved about this book was that it took place in Pakistan! As a person who would love to travel but does not enjoy the hassles, I adored being able to see what it was like to be in Pakistan without all the travel and in the comfort of my own home. It was definitely interesting seeing how the author viewed her birth home. In the novel, the land, Zarcane, was lovely to read about, it definitely is a place of fantasy and one I'd love to live if it were possible.
I also loved the character's names! They were fun and exotic. Similar to the types of names I'd choose for my characters, kids, or pets. However, I don't feel there was much character growth in Isra. I feel there is more growth with Farid who was a secondary character. Those of you who read my reviews know how much I like to see growth in my characters. Unfortunately, it was lacking in Isra and a majority of the characters.
I hope and feel the author will be able to learn and grow into a more adept storyteller because her ideas and concepts are wonderful. The author has the experience many do not have when it comes to diversity which is definitely something we need more of in this world. I just believe she needs a little more editing and guidance before she could reach her full potential.
Overall, the plot and characters were simple and it was a quick read. I liked how the story took place in an uncommon location in fiction but it was lackluster in its execution. If you like angels/demons, portal stories, and the idea of chosen ones then you'll enjoy this book!
3 out of 5 rating for me!
(An ARC was provided for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)
ABOUT ANOOSHA LALANI:
When she’s not writing, you may find Anoosha attending high school in Singapore. Having moved around so much, she has had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a vibrant range of cultures, which often seem to find their way into her stories. Anoosha was born in Pakistan, the setting of her most recent novel, The Keepers.
Connect with Anoosha on her website and twitter.