Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .
S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. The City of Brass is her first novel. www.sachakraborty.com
…it's clear we're in the hands of a playful writer…The Muslim world is no stranger to speculative fiction, though that label wouldn't be used there. Islamic folklore and narratives are full of flying machines, impossible journeys, skewed time frames and stories that illuminate cultural or scientific theories. It's clear that Chakraborty has great fun alluding to these tales, though in storytelling terms The City of Brass is standard, fast-paced fantasy fare…Most enjoyable is the gusto with which everything is thrown into [Nahri's] story, from massacres to zombies to djinns. If there are stereotypes, they're consciously acknowledged and mischievously inhabited. At the moment, speculative fiction has an exciting relationship with protest fiction and feminist narratives, and while The City of Brass doesn't blow away cultural notions of difference or reconfigure the male-female divide, it does exploit the genre's penchant for inclusion. In fact, the novel feels like a friendly hand held out across the world…It reads like an invitation for readers from Baghdad to Fairbanks to meet across impossibly divergent worlds through the shared language and images of the fantastical.The New York Times Book Review - Suzanne Joinson
The familiar fantasy theme of a young person learning of a hidden supernatural legacy is given new life in this promising debut novel, set in late-18th-century Egypt. Twenty-something Nahri, who has the ability to sense illness in others and to heal some ailments, supports herself as a fortune-teller and con artist in Cairo. Her routine, if precarious, existence, is shattered when a girl she is trying to help is possessed by an ifrit. Nahri only avoids being killed through the intervention of Dara, a djinn, who reveals that Nahri is from a family of magical healers. Chakraborty combines the plot’s many surprises with vivid prose (“The cemetery ran along the city’s eastern edge, a spine of crumbling bones and rotting tissue where everyone from Cairo’s founders to its addicts were buried”), and leavens the action with wry humor. There is enough material here—a feisty, independent lead searching for answers, reminiscent of Star Wars’s Rey, and a richly imagined alternate world—to support a potential series. Agent: Jennifer Azantian, Azantian Literary. (Nov.)
It’s hard to describe just how gorgeous and intricate this fantasy novel is.Syfy Wire
The City of Brass is the best adult fantasy I’ve read since The Name of the Wind. It’s stunning and complex and consuming and fantastic. You must read it.Sabaa Tahir
I particularly love a story of twisty, complex, dangerous, and character-driven family and palace politics, steeped in hidden history, cruel betrayals, and desires that can’t be admitted. The City of Brass delivers on all counts.Kate Elliot
The City of Brass is a mesmerizing fantasy tale of magic and intrigue that showcases the very best that the fantasy genre has to offer...a superbly written, lush fantasy story that deserves to be at the top of your to-read list.Hypable
Chakraborty’s debut dazzles...The City of Brass takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster, leaving them with an open ending that will have them desperate for the follow-up. Majestic and magical.Shelf Awareness
The City of Brass immerses you in a magnificent and vivid world. It’s a thrilling adventure, brimming with fabulous magic, compelling characters, and wonderful intrigue. I can’t wait for book two!Sarah Beth Durst
S. A. Chakraborty’s debut novel is an adventure that sweeps readers through the streets of Cairo and out into a spellbinding landscape of magic, warring clans, sacrifice, and betrayal. Each page reveals a new wonder. Con-woman Nahri, djinn warrior Dara, and the enchanted city that they--and we--are only just beginning to understand, are captivating. What an exciting ride!Fran Wilde
A richly imagined, stunningly immersive book that takes you into a world of darkly alluring djinn and beguiling magic...Peopled with irresistible characters and steeped in the myths of the Middle East, The City of Brass is a dazzlingly inventive tale.Ausma Zehanat Khan
[The City of Brass] reads like an invitation for readers from Baghdad to Fairbanks to meet across impossibly divergent worlds through the shared language and images of the fantastical.New York Times Book Review
Chakraborty writes a winning heroine in Nahri — flawed but smart and engaging. And her portrayal of the cultural conflicts in the magical city of Daevabad and of Ali’s inner turmoil is compelling and complex, serving as a strong counterpoint to the thrilling action.Washington Post
Chakraborty’s debut dazzles...The City of Brass takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster, leaving them with an open ending that will have them desperate for the follow-up. Majestic and magical.Shelf Awareness (starred review)
It’s hard to describe just how gorgeous and intricate this fantasy novel is.SYFY Wire
With this rich and layered novel, Chakraborty builds a fantasy world as intricate and intriguing as its Middle Eastern setting. Following the various subplots is like pondering vibrant Arabic design; readers will lose themselves in the wonder and complexity.BookPage
Vivid descriptions percolate the lush prose, and a final twist leaves room for a sequel. Recommend this scintillating, Middle Eastern fantasy to fans of thoughtful, mystical adventures.Booklist
Chakraborty’s first book in her in Daevabad Trilogy introduces an enchanting world of magic and treachery that will leave you clamoring for book two.Paste Magazine
The City of Brass is more than a promising debut — it beguiles all the way...Chakraborty’s research and imagination are equally strong, and she deftly sets up a rich world — and ample suspense — for the rest of this trilogy.Vulture (The Ten Best Fantasy Books of 2017)
An extravagant feast of a book—spicy and bloody, dizzyingly magical, and still, somehow, utterly believable.Laini Taylor
Fast-paced, strong characters, and immersive world-building—S. A. Chakraborty debut is a carpet-flying adventure of djinn-filled wonder that leaves you wishing for more.”Michael J. Sullivan
An opulent masterpiece. Chakraborty’s debut is desire-soaked, intrigue-laced, and rife with so-delicious-you’ll-sink-your-teeth-into-it worldbuilding and equally mesmerizing characters. A must-read.Roshani Chokshi
★ 09/15/2017Library Journal
To survive on the streets of 18th-century Cairo, Egypt, Nahri, a young con artist, lives by luck and skill. While she carries out her trades of palm and tea leaf readings, along with healings, she knows them to be just tricks, not magic—until the night she summons a djinn warrior during one of her cons. She embarks on an unexpected journey to the fabled Daevabad, the City of Brass, where the six djinn tribes still reside. However, its magical brass walls cannot protect against the growing darkness that lurks within. Tied by blood to the city, Nahri is pulled into deadly court politics as divergent forces seek to use her magical abilities to their advantage. VERDICT This lyrical historical fantasy debut brings to vivid life the ancient mythological traditions of an Islamic world unfamiliar to most American readers. Chakraborty's grasp of Middle Eastern history, folklore, and culture inspires a swiftly moving plot, richly drawn characters, and a beautifully constructed world that will entrance fantasy aficionados. [See Prepub Alert, 5/22/17.]—KC
01/01/2018School Library Journal
Nahri, a common Cairo thief who can sense sickness in others and sometimes heal them, is thrust into a magical world when she accidentally summons a powerful djinn. The handsome Dara insists that he escort Nahri to the magical hidden Daevabad, the City of Brass, where Nahri will be protected by Prince Ali's family, who have the power of Suleiman's seal. Never sure whom to trust, Nahri must rely on her street smarts to survive the dangers of the beguiling city and the duplicitous natures of those who surround her. Chakraborty's compelling debut immerses readers in Middle Eastern folklore and an opulent desert setting while providing a rip-roaring adventure that will please even those who don't read fantasy. Though Nahri is in her early 20s, young adults will recognize themselves in her. The other narrator, Prince Ali, is an 18-year-old second son who doubts the current class structure of his kingdom. Chakraborty's meticulous research about Middle Eastern lore is evident, but readers won't be bogged down by excessive details. VERDICT A must-purchase fantasy for all libraries serving young adults.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL