Thank you so much to the author for the review copy in exchange for an honest review!
Book: The Demon Race by Aelxandra Warwick
Release Date: September 18th 2018
Tags: Young Adult / Fantasy / Standalone / Middle Eastern Inspired / Race / Desert / Demons / Gods / Disability
Trigger Warnings: Violence / Blood / On the Page Attempted Suffocation / Murder / Mutilation / Forced Marriage/ Female Oppression
A race across the desert.
An unimaginable prize.
It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom.
When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness.
Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart.
In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay.
The Demon Race is a (for now) fantasy standalone set in a desert. It clearly has demons so I was quite ready for this book. And for the most part it delivered. But I have been going back and forth on my rating for a while now. In the end I decided to take my rating to the high end as this is a debut author and I settled on 4 stars. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some bones to pick with it though.
Let us start with the face that I enjoyed reading this book. I read it in one sitting and it was quite nice for a change to be able to be done with a book and there not being a sequel I need to wait on. It is a solid wrapped up story. There is still room to expand on this world it is set in but this story is done. The writing was very easy to fall into. And there were very little dull moments in this action packed book. Even so, some of the insights on female oppression felt more like lectures in places. I do appreciate what she tried to do though. Showing the male character his privilege as a man, and in turn showing our female character her privilege as an able bodied person.
As said this story takes place in the desert, and the culture and world seems based on middle eastern culture. The basis of the world is solid but I would have liked some more explaining on their gods perhaps and I would have liked more deepening on the demons. I understand that in this instance the demons were more used as a bad influence on our characters for the demon in themselves, but I would liked to have seen that the creatures they travelled on had been depicted more as individuals, you know. Now they just kind of fell to the background as a plot device and more discarded whenever convenient. I think that was a shame because it could have added so much more to the story and the characters.
Our main character is Namali who is 17 years of age and discovers at the start of the book she is to be married off at the end of the week. As this is not something she wants she leaves to join The Demon Race. She’s used to complying to the male men in her life. And while she took a long time to accept herself as brave her first decision to turn away from everything she has known is brave. She is a bit shy in moments but as we get to know her, and she interacts more with Sameen she becomes more free in her interactions. Namali also wears a veil in front of her mouth. Throughout the book it is clear this is by her own choice and that it means a great deal to her to show her face to someone.
Sameen is one of the kindest human beings I have come across in my recent reads. While he is joining The Demon Race for his own reasons he can’t help but help out Namali where everyone else turns her away. Even if this means his chances are becoming slimmer and slimmer every day. Their romance was obvious from the start but they suit each other. It is also a slower romance and a clean one for sure. There is not even a kiss.
While the romance might be very clean there is violence, blood and mutilation. So it is certainly not a read for those faint of heart.