The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty
For an actiony adventure, for a lovable crew, for incredible escalating magic
Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.
But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.
Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power… and the price might be your very soul.
This book had a lot to overcome in order for me to enjoy it since sailing and ship-based stories usually bore the heck out of me, but the reason I went for it was that it’s by Shannon Chakraborty, the same author of the City of brass trilogy that I absolutely fell in love with last year and devoured in the course of about 2 weeks the entire 1500 page series. Once I realized it was the same author for this book, the fact that it’s piratey and ship-based was something I was willing to overlook and at least give a try.
It did take me a little bit to be truly invested in the story, but once the crew was together and the adventure really began I was very quickly along for the ride. Once the action starts, it pretty much doesn’t stop. I can think of maybe one scene where Amina is able to catch her breath but that’s about it. It was balls to the wall chaos pretty much the whole way.
I think having the characters be older and more experienced help me relate to them more and have an easier time going through the obligatory learning about their relationships and history together. A lot of the times when there’s a story with a quirky crew as the core characters, I get tired if they are very flat or if there’s too much unseen history to get through. This walked that line pretty well, and I also appreciated that because they were a bit older and had already made and learned from their mistakes, they tended to be a little bit less stupid in their decisions.
The magic in this was outstanding, as is no surprise. It built from barely a whisper and a hint at the beginning of it, to unfathomable depths by the end. It was almost like watching a small surge become a tsunami. Every scene was so vivid that I could picture it in all its chaotic glory, and to be honest I think this would be an excellent movie if they could just stick to what’s done in the story. The visuals would be jaw-dropping in some cases.
On more of the technical side, I enjoyed the style of writing where it was being narrated and we were reading the narrated account. It gave a little bit of comfort when I knew that even in the craziest moments our narrator must somehow survive because she is telling the story later on. The additional kinds of writing, such as newspaper articles and lore, were also engaging for those short sections between chapters. And apparently a lot of them are actual documents in the real world, not fiction they made up to suit the story. I think that’s quite incredible!
So in short, if you’ve liked her other series you’ll probably still like this one, and if you like this one and haven’t read her other series, go read it because you are in for a treat!
6 thoughts on “Review: The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty”
Awesome review, Jennifer! I love being able to tell how much a reader enjoyed a book when reading their review and I can definitely tell you really enjoyed this one! I’ve been hearing lots of good things about it as well and I can’t wait to read it 🙂 …Even though I still need to finish the City of Brass trilogy! 😂
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So here’s our question: what gets read first, the next City of Brass book or A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon? The latter is more approachable (short & simpler story) so I’m guessing that one??
I’m really curious about this one! I’m all-in for the current trend (at least I hope it’s a trend) of having older protagonists in fantasy novels. While I do still love stories about people learning their skills, it’s also so refreshing to see stories of people who are already good at things!
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Yes!!! I think it is a trend, especially if we keep giving them good feedback and then hopefully authors will see that they can do that and still have commercial success as well as a great story!