Spice Road, Book 1
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Arabian-inspired fantasy series off to an exciting start.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The truth must prevail, and it's worth sacrificing everything for. Lifting up and protecting only your own kind using your knowledge, power, and resources only causes those things to diminish over time; sharing them for everyone's benefit will keep them strong. True magic isn't in the powers you have, it's being with our loved ones. It's not enough to mean well; you also have to do well.
Positive Role Models
Imani has to do what's right to stop injustice and protect others, even if it puts her in danger. She's fiercely loyal to her family and community, and models courage and perseverance while trying to set things right. Magical being Qayn is a good model of integrity.
Characters have a range of mostly brown skin tones and eye colors are umber, amber, green, and "wet clay." Most characters' hair is brown with several different textures mentioned. Villains are White with blond hair and blue eyes. Author Maiya Ibrahim is Arab Australian.
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Violence & Scariness
Violence in the real world includes fighting with swords, knives, arrows, punching, kicking, choking, and getting boxed in the ears. Blood and pain are described but not in gory detail. Characters see a man running his hand up a woman's thigh and fear on the woman's face. Gladiator-type fights to the death are mentioned and the beginning of one is described. An injured horse is put down with a sword; some sounds are described but nothing visual. A grotesque pyramid of dead bodies and hanging corpses are described briefly. Fantasy violence is mostly characters in mortal danger from magical beings and large-scale destruction they cause.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some romantic tension and a couple of kisses, one passionate and described briefly.
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"Damn," "horses--t," and "what the hells?"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of mentions of people smoking pipes and using spiced tobacco in water pipes, including an apple shisha (a tobacco product that gets heated in a hookkah (water pipe). A pouch of tobacco is a prize in prison. A magical substance if abused has a debilitating effect on the body and mind. An adult swigs wine, a group smokes, drinks, and plays dice, and a minor character's home smells of liquor and has lots of empty bottles lying around.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spice Road, by Maiya Ibrahim, is the first of a planned fantasy trilogy about a young woman's search for her missing brother as she learns about the larger world she's part of. Her brother has been presumed dead, so there are strong themes of loss, grief, and separation. Real-world and fantasy violence includes fighting with swords, knives, arrows, punching, kicking, choking, and getting boxed in the ears. Blood and pain are described but not in gory detail. There's scariness and suspense from characters in mortal danger from magical beings and creatures, some grotesque images, gladiator-type fights to the death, and an injured horse is put down. Lots of background characters are seen smoking pipes, and there's mention of spiced tobacco in a variety of water pipes, including an apple shisha (the tobacco product heated in a hookah). There's a lot of romantic tension but only a couple of kisses. The only strong language: "damn," "horseshit," and "hells." Adults drink wine occasionally, and one character's home smells of liquor and has lots of empty bottles around.
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What's the Story?
SPICE ROAD is the story of 17-year-old Imani, who's a member of the elite Shield corp, charged with protecting their hidden city and its magical secrets from the outside world. Imani's been lost and adrift, mourning the loss of her older brother Atheer. Until one day outside the city walls she discovers evidence that her brother may still be alive, in the far-off, forbidden kingdom of Alqibah. Imani determines to find her brother and bring him home safely, but to do that she'll need the help of a handsome but not-to-be-trusted djinn and her worst nemesis in order to cross the Swallowing Sands and follow the Spice Road to Alqibah.
Is It Any Good?
Fantasy fans will enjoy this exciting, intriguing new series set in an Arabian-inspired world. Spice Road has lots of action, adventure, and humor in a deeply and richly imagined world. Some of the writing is a little corny at first ("but it is not that day"), but debut author Maiya Ibrahim soon finds her own, solid voice. Teens will relate to Imani as her eyes are opened to new truths about herself, her world, and her place in it. The ending is sweetly satisfying while leaving the door wide open for continuing adventures.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the violence in Spice Road. Is it too much? Is there a difference if it's in the real world or the fantasy realm?
Is Imani a good role model? How does she model courage and perseverance? What are her character flaws?
- Author: Maiya Ibrahim
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: January 24, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 23, 2023
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
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