The Forty Thieves: Marjana’s Tale
The One Thousand and One Nights story starring Ali Baba and his forty thieves is retold from the eyes of Marjana, a slave girl living in the home of cruel masters. Tenth-century Baghdad comes to life as Marjana tries to keep her younger brother, Jamal, on the straight and narrow – and out of a dangerous street gang. Marjana is drawn into Ali Baba’s struggles with the forty thieves as the tale unfolds. Complications arise when a fellow slave named Saja tries to befriend her, bringing joy and pain in equal measures. This take on the classic tale makes the mysteries of Arabia accessible for a new generation.
Short, fast-paced chapters combined with compelling action and high emotional stakes keep this novel traveling along at a satisfying pace. The Arabic world of magic and danger is evoked with carefully selected details and beautiful descriptions, with just a tad too much exposition, that nevertheless give the reader a vibrant sense of the setting.
Clever turns on old, tired tropes and clichés like flying carpets and fortune telling give the story a refreshing feel. The protagonist is tripped up by her troubles and flaws in such a way that momentum is maintained. Whisper “Open Sesame!” when you open this book, and you won’t be disappointed with the magic that flows out and the dazzling adventures it unfolds.