Rating: 4/5 stars
One of my favorite things about fantasy novels is getting to explore a whole new world. The world building that authors create is astounding to me and I am in awe of the creativity that goes into it. The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai, is an excellent example of a world rich with fantasy elements but also just enough reality to really draw you in. Inspired by Egyptian history, this story incorporates forbidden magic and a fight for women’s equality. Have a gotten your attention yet?
Nehal has been informed she is to be married, which does not please her at all as her sole focus is to go to the newly reopened Weaving Academy to learn her craft as a waterweaver and then joining the newly formed all female military regiment. When she learns her new husband, Nico, is in love with a local woman she decides to use this to her advantage to gain his permission, loathe as she is to admit she needs it, to attend the Academy. Giorgina loves Nico and hopes for a change in her station, but with her history, poverty, and secrets it is not meant to be. She is an earthweaver with little to no control over her powers, but she does choose, and finds strength, in her joining of the Daughter of Izdihar-a group of women fighting for women’s rights led by Malik Mamdouh. Nico brings these women together, as well as their mutual cause and Malik. With a war looming between their neighbor nation and the fight over weaving, among other ideals, these women are fighting for their right to vote, be heard, love, and live.
This is Hadeer Eslbai’s debut novel, which in and of itself is a true achievement given how fantastic this story is, was so captivating and I cannot wait for the second in the duology to be released as I need to know what happens. I highly recommend this novel and am not so patiently going to be here waiting to see what happens to Nehal, Giorgina, Malak, and so many more characters.
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