Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Each week, you feature a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR and a diverse book that has not yet been released.
Since diversity is quite a broad term that covers many different aspects, to ensure I’m reading across the whole spectrum I will choose an area to focus on each week. This week I will be talking about fantasy books with POC protagonists.
A B O O K I H A V E R E A D
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN BY RENÉE AHDIEH
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
A retelling of A Thousand And One Nights, I loved everything about this story from the world-building to the characters. I adored Shazi and Khalid as much as they adored each other and perhaps even more. Luckily, it’s a duology and the sequel is everything you could want in a finale. But unluckily, it’s not a trilogy so when you finish The Rose And The Dagger you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.
A B O O K O N M Y T B R
THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
This has been on my TBR for a while now, and considering the companion will be releasing soon I really ought to prioritise it. I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I believe it’s also #ownvoices and based on Indian folklore. I don’t think I’ve yet read a diverse fantasy novel inspired by Southern Asia so I’m definitely looking forward to this one.
A B O O K R E L E A S I N G S O O N
FLAME IN THE MIST BY RENÉE AHDIEH
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.
I was always going to read whatever Renée wrote next, and it just so happens to be partly inspired by Mulan which only heightens my excitement. I actually cannot wait for this book. I’ve been anticipating it since it was announced so it definitely feels like I have been waiting forever.