The Thousand and One Nights meets The Prince and the Pauper.
In what can only be termed quasi-historical fantasy (the geography checks out, the mythology not so much), two girls—one headed to Baghdad to marry the caliph’s son, the other a jinni who spies on humans as part of an interspecies war—switch places. They look exactly alike, and both of them are closer to the secrets behind the war, which began in their infancies, than they know. Alternating chapters in occasionally indistinguishable (but generally well-written, albeit with occasional flashes of purple prose) first-person voices detail their worlds (the historical world aboveground and the jinni’s anachronistically modern-feeling underground Cavern); their parallel romances (the swap was good for kissing, at least); and the escalating war. Someone has been inciting trouble for a long time, and Najwa and Zayele’s accidental switch brings it all to a head. Yes, it’s first in a trilogy, but its arc is satisfying enough on its own.
Fast-paced and reasonably respectful, this Middle Eastern–flavored fantasy will appeal to a growing readership clamoring for exactly this kind of girl-powered intrigue, magic and romance. (Fantasy. 12-16)