Illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole
For ages 8+
About the book
🌱What an absolutely fantastic debut by Zohra Nabi!! Mystery, suspense, a twist on the myths and legends. Following an intriguing and magical Prologue the story begins with a tragic event for any 12 year old girl, the death of her mother and the prospect of a life in care. Yara Sulimayah’s Mama has left her a handwritten letter of instructions - she must go to a city called Zehaira and find a sorceress called Leyla Khatoun by boat from Poole Harbour.
🌱For a girl who hasn’t had much in her life - no friends to speak of, or much in the way of possessions, and lives on the 6th floor of a tower block in Bournemouth, this is mind-blowing. Her mama had said she originated from Iraq, but the language she and her spoke was strangely alien to any Iraqis they ever met. Grief is put on hold as she plans her escape from the social worker, taking one of her beloved mother’s headscarves as her only sentimental item.
🌱Yara makes it to the dock and travels across the sea with a ‘Ferryman’ (think Charon or Aqen) to a city where there are no mobile phones, the air is thick with spices and her mysterious language is the mother-tongue. Tracking down the sorceress is filled with danger, as Yara stumbles upon a deadly plot against the magical community by the Sultan’s Chief Alchemist. She steals one of his secret weapons… a jinn (genie of the bottle)… Disguised as a goat, Ajal, the jinn accompanies Yara on her quest as she battles through this strange land to seek her destiny. Meeting new friends and many enemies along the way, Yara discovers her origin, grieves for her Mama, and (quite recklessly) comes into her own powers as she leaves her past behind and becomes a heroine to a community where she truly belongs.
🌱I enjoyed the representation of Mesopotamian/Arabian cultures, odes to the rich influence they have had on the Western world. I’m pleased to tell you that there is a cliffhanger at the end of the book… The book is beautifully packaged.
About the creators
Zohra Nabi (author)
Zohra Nabi grew up inventing stories for her two younger sisters. She studied law at Cambridge and Oxford universities, but secretly dreamed of being an author. Now she lives in London, browsing bookshops and writing magical adventures. The Kingdom over the Sea is her first book.
Tom Clohosy Cole (illustrator)
Tom Clohosy Cole is a Brighton bred, London based freelance illustrator, designer and animator. As well as publishing Space Race under Nobrow Press’ Leporello Series, he has been commissioned to work for many major organisations including the Financial Times, The Radio Times and the Wellcome Trust.
death of a parent
Middle Eastern myth, legend and culture
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Publication date: 11 May 2023
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*reviewed from proof via advance reading copy provided by the publisher
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