Title: Daughter of the Salt King by A.S. Thornton
Published: February 2, 2021
Genre(s): fantasy, adult, romance, magic
Read as: eARC
As a daughter of the Salt King, Emel ought to be among the most powerful women in the desert. Instead, she and her sisters have less freedom than even her father’s slaves … for the Salt King uses his own daughters to seduce visiting noblemen into becoming powerful allies by marriage.
Escape from her father’s court seems impossible, and Emel dreams of a life where she can choose her fate. When members of a secret rebellion attack, Emel stumbles upon an alluring escape route: her father’s best-kept secret—a wish-granting jinni, Saalim.
But in the land of the Salt King, wishes are never what they seem. Saalim’s magic is volatile. Emel could lose everything with a wish for her freedom as the rebellion intensifies around her. She soon finds herself playing a dangerous game that pits dreams against responsibility and love against the promise of freedom. As she finds herself drawn to the jinni for more than his magic, captivated by both him and the world he shows her outside her desert village, she has to decide if freedom is worth the loss of her family, her home and Saalim, the only man she’s ever loved. (Goodreads)
This review is of an eARC provided via NetGalley. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
This book makes me rage. I can think of no other way to start this that would encapsulate my feelings. Rage. So much rage.
What really irritates me, though, is the fact that 90% of this book was absolutely fantastic.
This story focuses on Emel, the daughter of the powerful and corrupt Salt King. In their world of sand and brutal sun, salt is the only currency that matters and the Salt King lords over them all, dictating all trade and trade routes associated in the sale of salt. But the Salt King is not a kind man. He keeps his many daughters hidden away and sells them to other men with power throughout the desert for political alliance.
What people don’t know is that the King has a jinni under his command and he cannot be defeated. Many have tried and all have been killed with the slightest wish dropping from his lips.
Now, during the first 90% of this book I was enthralled by Emel and her acts of defiance against her father and her personal growth. She is an interesting, intelligent, kind hearted woman who wants to be out from under her father’s rule to make her own choices and be in control of her own life. Watching her grow and develop as a character was a great journey and I loved watching her learn what boundaries she could push.
During her journey she learns that her father has a jinni and the pair begin to have clandestine meetings and you quickly come to love Emel and Saalim. Saalim may have the power to grant wishes but the Goddess that looms over them all decides what path those wishes take. If you have malice in your heart when you make the wish the malice will come back on you unless you are very, very cautious in your wording. So, though Emel desires to wish for her freedom, she wants to be sure it cannot come back to haunt her nor does she wish to be separated from Saalim.
Watching their relationship grow as Emel also navigated the horrors of her father’s court was wonderful. I loved that part of the story and often found myself picking this book up to read more even if there were other things I should be doing.
Until we get to the end. I won’t give any spoilers but I will say that nothing ends the way the reader is lead to believe it will. The conclusion is painful and you are left feeling completely unfulfilled. None of the promises made come to fruition and we are left with many dangling plot points and a painful, empty feeling where the conclusion should have gone. It was enough to drop my rating from my projected 4.5 to a 3. Yes, it truly was that dissatisfying and I stand by my rating.
Is this worth a read? That is up to you. As I mentioned, most of this book was wonderful and I absolutely adored it but the end just…well, it hurt. As a reader who had come to love these characters it was painful to read and not satisfying in any way. I’ll leave this one in your hands and quietly hope that perhaps some major changes were made to the ending of this book after I received my ARC.