This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi is set in the mythical kingdom of Ardunia, where jinn and humans both reside. Alizeh is a jinn and is forced to hide herself in plain sight from fear of persecution. She also happens to be the long-lost Queen of the jinn kingdom, a fact that she doesn’t often dwell on as a lowly servant of Baz House as she scrubs floors, all while keeping her face completely hidden.
Kamran is the human Prince and heir to the throne of Ardunia. His grandfather is the King but warns him of political tensions which may eradicate his life sooner than later, which means Kamran could soon be King. Alizeh and Kamran’s paths cross one day when Alizeh is ambushed by a beggar who threatens to kill her on the street, and Kamran saves his life when he tries to commit suicide a few moments later. From that ill-fated meeting, Kamran’s and Alizeh’s destinies seem to be interwoven as they struggle to live their lives based on what was prophesized years ago.
Mafi is the famed author of teen series Shatter Me, and has many other YA books under her belt, but This Woven Kingdom may be her best. She has constructed a world that is utterly captivating and spellbinding to be in. Weaving in Persian and Islamic lore, the kingdom of Ardunia is well-imagined and contains both petticoats and veils, reality and magic, humans and jinn. The devil makes an appearance too, and he isn’t just the mythical creature who is somewhat feared but instead is given a terrifying face as he haunts Alizeh and has followed her around since childhood.
The characters of Kamran and Alizeh are rich and detailed, so they leap off the page. They aren’t the only ones though; so are many of the other characters that walk the streets of Ardunia, from the apothecary who seems to be on Alizeh’s side, to Omid, the street beggar who is on the run, to King Zaal, Kamran’s grandfather who is hiding a mountain of secrets.
Mafi’s writing and her worldbuilding is lush and lyrical. She imprisons you in the story and in a world that is immersive and enthralling. This is a story to be savoured. It is not a story of fast-paced action or quick-moving plot. Told in alternating chapters over only a few days, This Woven Kingdom allows us to live and breathe as Kamran and Alizeh do as we are privy to their innermost thoughts and struggle in this world that is both beautiful and terrifying.
The ending leaves you breathless, as you don’t find out what Alizeh’s fate is until the very last page. And that leaves you wanting more. But fear not, the sequel These Infinite Threads comes out on February 7th, and is already on order at WPL!
Photo credit: Instagram.com/tahereh