The Balloon Thief
Publisher: Chicken House
Desperate to avoid an unwanted arranged marriage, Khadija does what she has always dreamed of and escapes on one of the beautiful hot air balloons that fly through the skies above her land - only to discover a world of danger and simmering tensions.
Khadija is a member of the ruling Ghadaeans, but on her travels she meets Jacob, one of the hāri who have been oppressed and mistreated over the years.
Now, Jacob and Khadija must decide what kind of world they want to live in - will they join powerful warrior Anam and her organisation the Wāzeem, who believe in non-violent protests?
Or will Jacob's anger and disenchantment about the way he and his people have been treated lead him to joining the Hāreef, who will do whatever it takes to overthrow the Ghadaeans... even if that means invoking terrifying magic and powerful, malevolent jinn?
The Balloon Thief is a beautifully written book that conjures up an enchanting, fully realised world. Exploring racial tensions, courage, prejudice, the importance of forging your own path, different forms of oppression and discrimination and how to stand up for what's right, the book gets to grips with some big topics, all in a breathtaking whirlwind of a story that feels impossible to put down.
You may wish to note that the book includes some fairly strong fantasy violence.