A sassy desert sharpshooter swashbuckles through a six-gun Arabian Nights in this fantasy debut.
Once upon a time in Miraji, fiery Djinn bartered for wishes and heroes rode immortal steeds of wind and sand; now the hardscrabble folk of Dustwalk make weapons for the Sultan’s foreign allies and trade whispered rumors about the Rebel Prince. Orphaned, barely tolerated, and stifled in a culture that considers females worthless, Amani is so desperate to get out of the Last County that she dresses as a boy and enters a shooting contest. But that’s before she meets the charming foreign scoundrel Jin, and then the barn burns down, and the factory blows up, and the army arrives….From the irresistible opening paragraph, this rollicking caper expertly mashes up a gritty Middle East with a steampunk Old West, succeeding through the infectious voice of its heroine: brash, witty, cynical, and fierce, with an aching, vulnerable core and a suppressed streak of idealism. The secondary characters are just as memorable, from snarky, secretive Jin to their various foes, who range from cartoonish to terrifying to darkly tragic. Amani’s adventures through this immersive alternative landscape continually veer off into unpredictable detours, looping back to an almost overstuffed climax that manages to deliciously satisfy while dangling tempting hints for a sequel.
Romantic, thrilling, hilarious, and just plain great fun. (Fantasy. 12 & up)