Review: Nomad's Dream by August Li

Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine?

Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach.

In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.

Impressive with the world building and the setup, this isn’t your typical paranormal romance.

Isra is basically a loner, a wandering soul even amongst his Bedouin people of wanderers. He’s been having recurring dreams about a mysterious man that he can’t ignore and feels the overwhelming need to find this stranger and help him no matter what. Thus, Isra implores his childhood friend, a mischievous fire spirit, for guidance and is forever changed with what he comes across.

Janan has no recollection of any personal history and after being on his own for many months, the kind offer of aid from Isra is just too hard to refuse. What they discover in trying to find out who Janan is, is something more powerful and dangerous than first assumed.

I was really expecting grand adventure and whirlwind romance and though we do get that somewhat, this was also a lot more sedate than anticipated. Truly well written, I liken this to more an ode to the Bedouin lifestyle and culture, a love song really, to freedom - not only physically but spiritually from all the trappings of the modern world. Bridging plenty of faith and religion with lots of commentary about life in general, this was more a thoughtful romance - not only about two people but also towards a way of living and where identity shapes one’s worth and humanity.

Not containing a lot of flash and bang that was wanted and expected but again, more of an introspective study on many things, in and amongst a sweet love story, peppered with some lite smexy, and a penultimate finale. Li for sure mixes up genres and tropes, and I look forward to what may come next.

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion.

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