Spice Road

Maiya Ibrahim

Spice Road
Hodder & Stoughton
United Kingdom
31 January 2023

Spice Road

Maiya Ibrahim

Shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Prize 2023

The first book in an epic fantasy series for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal and Elizabeth Lim, set in an Arabian-inspired land.

Raised to protect her nation from the monsters lurking in the sands, seventeen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother whose betrayal is now their greatest threat.

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic awakens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits. Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation’s coveted spice - a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief. But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation’s magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city’s location.

Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission. Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes - and in her own heart - but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?

In this epic and action-packed fantasy, one young heroine navigates the treacherous road between protecting the ones you love and staying loyal to the place you call home.


Maiya Ibrahim’s debut Spice Road is a beguiling Arabian-inspired fantasy, brimming with rich worldbuilding, deadly monsters, courtly intrigue, and a slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance. This book was an oasis in the desert, a diamond in the rough; I devoured it in two days and cannot wait for the sequel!

Imani lives in Qalia, a prosperous and vibrant kingdom that thrives on the magic spice called misra. Misra grants anyone who consumes it a magical power – whether it be shapeshifting, manipulating the elements, speaking to animals or more; misra is not just magic but the building blocks of life itself. Whoever has misra has power. Qalia is the only city with access to this spice. So, when Imani’s brother is discovered stealing misra and runs away to the Forbidden Wastes, Imani is determined to learn the truth.

As she and a team journey to bring him home, she comes across hidden kingdoms where her history teachers and maps said there were only barbaric wastelands.

‘Truth is the thorn, not the rose,’ as Imani learns when her duty to her nation, her loyalty to her brother, and the strength of her heart are put to the test. Secrets and political schemes are unveiled, and a greater evil threatens to destroy everything she’s ever known.

Perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Frank Herbert, Spice Road will entrance, putting you under its spell and sinking you into its lyrical prose until your heart is stuck, yearning for more, long after you’ve finished. For ages 13+.

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