I’m Jamal. Twenty six and recently completed my second draft of a YA Arabian fantasy with queer themes. I’m looking for CP’s for a swap. The type of feedback I’d love to get is big picture critiques. Plot, character arcs, world-building, that kind of stuff. Though, line edits are great too. I’d just want something more than just line edits.
Some of my favorite books: The Binding. Carry On. Reverie. The Song of Achilles. The House in the Cerulean Sea.
Strong characters. LGBTQ+ themes. Non-western worlds.
In a petite village amidst scorching deserts, sixteen-year-old Kareem scrapes together a living with his family of bakers. It’s a shame he’s no good. He may make hundreds of flatbreads, practice his kneading skills, and work until his muscles ache, but it is simply not enough. Still, there is little he won’t sacrifice (willingly or not) for the satisfaction of his father. So when Wazir Faisal of Khazabian royalty dies after paying an odd visit, who else but Kareem takes the blame.
Apprentice to the almighty Almu’aalajah, seventeen-year-old Yasir only has one goal. Finish his apprenticeship, start his own egromancy establishment, and finally gain the status his parents so unfairly stripped of him. It is a shame then that Almu’aalajah continues to delay his egromancy training. And when said lack of training leads to the death of a child in need, he has had enough. He must take his studies into his own hands.
Their paths collide when Kareem, now a prisoner in Almu’aalajah’s domain, plots his escape. Yasir is assigned his caretaker, set to kill him for his crime in two days time. Except, for as many jailbreaks as Kareem attempts, Yasir cannot bring himself to do it. If he frees this prisoner, Yasir risks compromising his entire life plan. And if he doesn’t, it will be the second life taken by his hands. So when Yasir learns of the questionable timing of the wazir’s death, he assists Kareem with his plan of escape.
Now on the run, they seek the identity of the true murderer, only to discover secrets beyond their imagination, and a scheme at work years in the making. Kareem quickly learns no one is to be trusted—not even the ones closest to him.
My father’s nails dig so far into my wrist the blood was imminent. I knew it was coming. The bread needed an extra minute, and had I taken them out like I intended, they would’ve been underbaked. We can’t serve underbaked bread to a wazir. Not without consequences. Now, the tingling pain of his grip is another in a long list of physical reminders marked on my body of my wrong-doings.
The dough morphs from pale white to the color of our desert sands. No darker. Khazabian royalty expect their bread to be no less perfect. From the grains we use to the techniques needed, nothing they are served could possibly be like us commoners.
“As soon as they are done, put them on the tray and bring them inside,” Baba says, releasing my wrist. “Wazir Faisal should be arriving any minute. I must attend to him.”
“And keep your eyes on the bread! Don’t you dare burn them.”
He grunts, then heads back inside the bakery.
It takes another two minutes and forty-three seconds before the bread is done. Which is to say: too long. The last thing I need is having to explain to the wazir of Khazab why his bread is late. Indeed, the last thing I need is having to explain anything to him. He’s already made such an outlandish appearance in our little village, bringing all his camels and fabrics just to flaunt it in our faces. The idea of embarrassing my father’s bakery would not only put us to shame, but the whole village of Safeh would be a Khazabian laughing stock.
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