I love reading books with archaeology in them, and when the author Anjum Noor Choudhury sent me the synopsis of her book, I was more than glad to read and review it.
The book is set in some middle-eastern country, and though the author never specifies, I think it is Jordan. Leela is on a vacation there with her parents, and on their last day there, Altaf, their tour guide, who is always flirting with Leela, takes them to the Stone City in Crescent Valley. While there, Leela can sees some sights that no one else seems to notice. Altaf notices this, and realizes that she can be useful in finding the treasure of Stone City which he wishes to use to get out of the control of the mob boss who employs him. Therefore, he kidnaps Leela on the night before her departure and takes her to Stone City, where they are eventually sent back in time to what appears to be the ancient Nabatean kingdom.
Again, the author never mentions that it is the Nabatean kingdom, but Stone City bears a resemblance to Petra. Altaf mentions that the ancestors of his tribe built Stone City, and in reality members of the Bdoul tribe claim to be descendants of the ancient Nabateans. This makes me a little cautious, with reference to Altaf, because I cannot judge how accurately the author has portrayed him if he is indeed meant to be a member of this tribe. I cannot judge the representation here, and for that I apologize to my readers.
Altaf does come across as quite annoying, and his kidnapping Leela certainly does not improve one’s opinion of him. The author does try to soften his image, but it didn’t really work for me. Leela too, comes across as having too high an opinion of herself at times. Both were too much like stock characters for me to care about them.
It didn’t help at all when the author threw in a sudden kiss between the too, because nothing before indicates that Leela had any interest in Altaf at all. It seems to be stuck in there forcefully. Also, it seems a bit much to assume that the ancients of Petra would reveal their secrets to an outsider but not to a native who may very well be their descendant. These things made suspension of disbelief quite difficult.
That said, the visuals of Leela searching for the treasure and some scenes in the time-travel section of the book are nicely done. The whole thing does feel a bit rushed though and seems to wrap up abruptly.
The author does have a great idea here, it is the execution that needs work. I feel that with a longer book with properly fleshed out characters and some editing, this could be a good book.
FTC disclaimer: I received a e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for this honest review.