Title: Nomad’s Dream
Author: August Li
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Paranormal
Page Count: 192
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine?
Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach.
In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.
I’m truly amazed by this story, a mix of fantasy, myth and magic, set in the timeless deserts where Bedouins traverse the ever-changing landscape on camels. Since the summer, Isra has dreamed of a man walking in an unfamiliar place, always just out of his reach. When Isra finally catches up to the man,
He turned, and when their eyes met, Isra felt like he was watching dawn break over the desert. The man had an elegant beauty to his dark lashes, full lips, longish, straight nose, and smoky quartz eyes, but it was the fear and confusion in his expression that struck Isra hardest.
When Isra (who is around 30 years old) was a young man, he was saved from death by an arafrit, a magical creature in the form of a beautiful youth who “moved like fire, and he burned. The flames danced behind his large eyes and the subtle, swirling marks on his skin. It was as if everything solid were merely a vessel to contain the fire within.” Just when you think this story was set in a time long past, you learn that this Bedouin life co-exists with the current time and this tale is a contemporary one. The guiding spirit, whom Isra named Flicker, agrees to help Isra find his mystery man and they locate him in the modern Egyptian town of Qena.
The man has no idea who he is and his life began only a few months prior when he awoke in the city with no shoes and no money. He has wandered the streets as a beggar: “None of them saw beyond his dirty clothing, bare feet and matted hair. Did they even see him as a man with a heart like their own?” Isra, embodying the Bedouin traits of hospitality and honesty, takes the man (whom he names Janan which means “heart” or “soul” in Arabic) home with him to the desert to restore his mind and body. Janan and Isra gradually fall in love and while there are no on-page sex scenes, there is truly the sense that Isra has found his soul mate in Janan and that the same is true for Janan.
While Janan can remember nothing of his past, he is drawn to Cairo and Isra and Flicker accompany him to help him find his answers, and modern-day Cairo is where the later part of the story is set. While the initial pace of the story feels a bit slow, we get the opportunity to know Isra and Janan and their characters through their philosophies and discussions:
God is loving and forgiving, and he wants us to be happy. If we can find happiness, I think he’s pleased. Trying to do good is what matters. All the world’s great belief systems agree there. God should be a reason to rejoice, never an excuse to feel anger or resentment toward others.
The plot takes unimaginable twists and turns and the characters deal with supernatural events and creatures and modern-day villains, and the ending actually pulls it all together in a unique way that I find simply extraordinary. There is a richness that August Li brings to “Nomad’s Dream” that really sets it apart. 5 stars and a Recommended Read!