Author: Nomi Eve
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This was a beautiful, poetic, inspiring story. I loved both the rich historical setting and the exciting foreshadowing.
Adela’s father’s health is failing and he’s desperate to find her a husband. As a Jewish child, if she is isn’t betrothed when her father dies, she will be take from her family to be raised by a Muslim family instead. Just when Adela is giving up hope, her uncle arrives with a handsome son and an aunt who teacher her about henna and the woman’s world her harsh mother has never let her be a part of. However, when Adela’s family is forced to flee to Aden, she will begin to discover herself only to be betrayed by those she loves.
This book hooked me immediately with beautiful prose and hints of tragedy to come. In some books, I find that knowing something bad is going to happen is more suspense than I can deal with. In this case, however, it added just enough tension to pull me forward, perhaps because Adela was dealing with enough un-foreshadowed challenges to keep me focused on the present. At the beginning, I loved the comparison of stories and henna designs. The writing throughout the book lived up to the beautiful opening, often poetic and inspiring. The setting was also a strength of this story. The plot was intimately connected to specifics of the time and place in history. The author brought in hints of larger events in the world, enhancing the story and my ability to learn from it through context.
The henna that the story focuses on was fascinating and I enjoyed learning about the culture women who were otherwise mostly powerless had claimed as their own. One of my least favorite parts of the book was that the main character really didn’t have any control over her fate. Although that was in large part due to the setting I liked so much, I still wished she’d made more decisions within the restrictions she faced. There was great character growth though, as Adela dealt with many adverse events outside her control and the ending was very moving. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to any fan of historical fiction.