Review of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi (Amina al-Sirafi #1) by Shannon Chakraborty.
“For this scribe has read a great many of these accounts and taken away another lesson: that to be a woman is to have your story misremembered. Discarded. Twisted.”– The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi
Embark on a thrilling adventure with ‘The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi’
by Shannon Chakraborty: a masterful tale of world-building and characterization
Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.
But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.
Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power… and the price might be your very soul.
I just finished this audiobook five minutes ago and I’m just speechless. Not only did The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi get me out of my reading slump, but it’s also the best book I’ve read so far this year. I’m fairly certain this book will be in my top three reads of the year, if not my number one.
The plot of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is well-constructed and full of twists and turns that kept surprising me until the very end. Chakraborty has paid attention to every detail, and everything ties together perfectly in the end. The pacing is spot-on, with each chapter building on the last to create a truly engaging and thrilling adventure. There wasn’t a single moment where I was bored and wanted to put the book down. If anything, I got annoyed when arriving at work because I had to stop listening to the book.
Chakraborty’s writing style is remarkable, making the story flow effortlessly from beginning to end. The little podcast-like intermezzos were a stroke of genius, adding so much depth to the story and really making it stand out from other adventure novels. The way the ‘hosts’ interacted with the story gave the book a unique feel and made for longer and more sometimes serious chapters to be a bit more lighthearted.
“Perhaps another storyteller long ago decided this was best, just as I briefly held back the truth from you. Or maybe it was an honest mistranslation. We will likely never know.”
And I haven’t even talked about the world. Oh man, the world-building in The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is magnificent. Chakraborty has created a vivid and authentic world that is both enchanting and believable. What’s really impressive is that she manages to do all of this without getting bogged down in technical details or lengthy descriptions. The world feels alive and real, but it never feels overwhelming or confusing. It felt like I was watching a movie instead of listening to an audiobook.
Of course, a great story needs great characters to bring it to life, and The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi has them in spades. Amina herself is a fantastic protagonist, strong-willed and resourceful but with a vulnerability that makes her relatable. She’s honestly such a badass and I aspire to be more like her. The rest of the crew are equally well-drawn, with distinct personalities and their own unique motivations. What really stands out, though, is the way Chakraborty handles the different religions and beliefs of her characters. Each character has their own faith and their own way of practicing it, and the way these different beliefs interact with each other is both fascinating and thought-provoking.
Would I recommend it?
Definitely! The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is a truly fantastic book that I would recommend to anyone who loves adventure stories, well-drawn characters, and immersive world-building. Shannon Chakraborty is a talented writer who has created a truly unforgettable tale, and I can’t wait to see where Amina’s adventures take her next. So if you’re looking for a book that will transport you to another world and keep you on the edge of your seat, look no further than this one.
Alcohol, assault, attempted murder, blood, bones, emesis, fire, gore, maggots, misogyny, murder, occult, plague (brief mention), poisoning, racism, rape threats, snakes, spiders, violence
Muslim main character and side characters
Transgender side character
Gay side character
Fantasy, sea adventure
February 28, 2023
About the author
S. A. Chakraborty is the author of the critically acclaimed and internationally best-selling The Daevabad Trilogy. Her work has been nominated for the Locus, World Fantasy, Crawford, and Astounding awards. When not buried in books about thirteen-century con artists and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and re-creating unnecessarily complicated medieval meals. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @SAChakrabooks, where she likes to talk about history, politics, and Islamic art. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and an ever-increasing number of cats.