They said that the only folks who belonged in Deadshot after dark were the ones who were up to no good. I wasn’t up to no good. Then again, I wasn’t exactly up to no bad either.
All it took was this first paragraph of Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands (March) to know I was in for a bold, riveting adventure. Perhaps my coffee was laced with Djinni blood to grant me such an enticing read?
In the opening scene, the heroine, Amani Al’Hiza, has stolen her uncle’s wide-brimmed hat and horse and fled her small, back-country town of Dustwalk. (“If it were possible to die of boredom, everyone in Dustwalk would be corpses in the sand.”) With a scarf covering her face up to her eyes so she doesn’t “seem like a girl,” Amani enters Deadshot’s “alive and kicking” pistol pit, where she hands over her life’s savings to participate in a shooting contest. Orphaned and at the mercy of her tyrannical uncle, she’s desperate to win enough money to get her out of the Last County for good–far away from her uncle’s claim that she needs a husband to “finally beat some sense into her.” (And by “a husband,” he means himself!)
I won’t tell you what happens next on Amani’s quest to “get out or die trying.” What I will say is that it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with a heroine whose tongue is as sharp as her shooting, and Jin, the mysterious and handsome foreign fugitive who becomes her partner in crime. Amani and Jin are as fierce as their world: the sultanate dessert nation of Miraji, where Old West meets Middle Eastern mythology and mythical beasts, including djinn, still exist in more wild and remote areas.
Determined to battle oppression and embrace her own powers, Amani is one of my favorite new heroines in YA fantasy. Rebel of the Sands is perfect for fans of last year’s best YA fantasy novels featuring comparable heroines, such as An Ember in the Ashes, The Wrath and the Dawn, and Red Queen, along with many of this year’s YA fantasy, such as Kathy MacMillan’s Sword and Verse, Sarah Fine’s The Impostor Queen, Kathryn Purdie’s Burning Glass, Amy Tintera’s Ruined, and Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game. And, yes, this is one of those rare instances when you really should judge a book by its cover!
Alyssa recommends new and forthcoming releases in (mostly) young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She thanks Edelweiss and the publisher for providing her with a digital review copy of Rebel of the Sands for review purposes. Please note that the quotes are based on an uncorrected text and may change upon publication.