Gut Reaction Review
Author: Heather Demetrios

Fair warning: I did not like this book, so everything I say is going to be tinted by that. However, if you really liked Exquisite Captive (which I was in the A- range on) you will likely enjoy this book just as much.

At the end of Exquisite Captive, half-human/half-fire jinni Malek makes his third and final wish of Nalia – to be taken to the location of Solomon’s Sigil, a magical ring that gives the wearer control over every jinni on Earth. Nalia is bodily bound to grant Malek’s wish, but her heart wants the Sigil to go to Raif, leader of the Arjinnan Revolution who wants to see the caste system abolished. Her love for Raif is marred by the fact that she killed his best friend, albeit on her cruel mother’s orders. She has yet to reveal this to Raif, and is torn with internal strife about how to tell him.

Blood Passage can be divided into three sections: wandering through Morocco, wandering through the desert, and wandering through a dank cave. Partway through the desert wandering, I came to the conclusion that I was not going to be able to grind my way through this book. The entire plot centers around questing for the Sigil, which was rather frustrating for me since I wasn’t expecting it to dominate the whole book. I actually yelled at the Husband Unit, “I don’t like this book!” to which he replied “Why are you reading it?” to which I gave an almighty groan and face-planted into a pile of laundry.

I love a good villain, so the one redeeming factor of Blood Passage is Malek, Nalia’s manipulative former master who loves her with a dangerously possessive affection. We get a lot of his back story, both from his early life and his first days of owning Nalia. I was too fascinated by him to quit cold turkey, so I ended up heavily skimming the final 300 pages, mostly looking for his name so I could read what I deemed “the interesting bits.” I’m convinced the plot could have moved along a lot quicker since I was still able to easily comprehend the storyline while skipping large swaths of text.

I think my issue with this book, and in fact the entire series, can be boiled down to one thing: I DON’T LIKE RAIF. And since he’s Nalia’s main squeeze, as it were, that poses something of a problem. I love YA books, but I do not love YA romances, and Blood Passage fulfilled all the tropes that drive me absolutely bananas. In fact, Malek calls them out on it, but since he’s the bad guy, his words are disregarded when in fact they are COMPLETE COMMON SENSE.

Love?” Now Malek laughed, low and cruel. He played his part so well. “Darling, what you two have is a crush, nothing more. You’ve known that hotheaded fool for a few weeks.

I don’t profess to be any sort of romance expert, but I am married and decently into my 20s, and Malek has hit the nail square on the head. Sorry if that bursts anyone’s bubble. Their romance is too rushed and unfounded on actually knowing anything about the other person to be believable in any way. But no. Author Heather Demetrios continues to profess that they are each other’s rohifsa, or “song of my heart.” I cry baloney.

Don’t take that to mean that I approve of Malek’s domineering attempts to win Nalia’s heart. I don’t. But at least he’s taken three years to grow and profess his feelings, however unhealthy they may be.

Another line that drove me NUTS was when Raif’s sister, Zanari, makes the difficult choice to abandon a newly budding relationship to focus on the Revolution.

Zanari didn’t know what it meant, that she’d been able to make the choice to leave Phara. When Raif and Nalia though they had to be apart, it was the end of the world for them.

Zanari thinks her love must be less because she can stand to be separated from the object of her affection. Sorry, but what she’s describing between Raif and Nalia is an unhealthy dependence. When people act like that in real life, it drives their friends and families bonkers. Being in a loving relationship doesn’t mean you sacrifice your ability to stand strong as an individual. Despite being the most powerful jinni in existence, Nalia has yet to learn this.

Ahh…what else? I could go into detail about blah blah blah jinn lore leads them through a mysterious underground cave blah blah blah Raif loves/hates Nalia for murdering his friend but of course he can’t stay away blah blah blah but I really didn’t get into the plot that much. Some basic things you can probably anticipate for book three:

  • Raif’s friends in the rebellion will hate Nalia, since she’s the last living member of an oppressive royal line. Of course.
  • Raif will defend her, but their relationship will be strained and tested. Of course.
  • Nalia will struggle internally with her role and power, managing to mope her way across Arjinna. Of course.
  • And finally, you can anticipate that I will not be reading it.