There are demons and magic and small gods and family and love in the desert. Interestingly, none of the characters are given names. The person I would most associate with a Shah position is Lo-Melkhiin, which (from reading the afterward) I deduce is more of a position than a name. That strategy really enables the reader to put themselves in the story.
Also interesting (at least to me) was that the author had desert experience, having spent six summers in the desert and having worked on the Wadi ath-Thamad project in Jordan. That experience lends authenticity to the scenes the author describes.
That said, I haven’t really described the story (talk about no spoilers!). The story begins with two step-sisters, though they could not be closer than if they were true sisters. While their father is away with his caraven, the family learns Lo-Melkhiin is on his way to choose his new wife.
One sister is considered more beautiful than the other, but the other sister cannot abide the idea that her sister will surely die. So, with her mothers’ help, she dresses in a gorgeous garment originally intended for a wedding, a garment that cannot help but draw the eye of Lo-Melkhiin away from her lovely sister. Her family sets up an altar to her as a small god and worship.
The first night, however, when Lo-Melkhinn touches her, a blue flame climbs her arm, to be answered by a copper flame from her to him. Our heroine doesn’t understand what is happening as he leaves her alone. She uses her knowledge of people to begin to explore her new environment and to figure out the mystery, a mystery that will mean change for everyone.
I found the story so engrossing, I read two hours past my normal sleep time to get to the ending. Again, it’s not 1,001 Arabian Nights. It’s something new and, to my mind, better.
Added 4th November 2015