The City of Brass is an adult fantasy set in the Middle East. (Specifying it falls under adult since this is one of those books that might be mistaken for YA just because of the cover and because the author and the main character are female.)
Nahri, the main character, is a human (???) girl who has mysterious healing powers and has been able to understand a bunch of different languages since birth. She eventually befriends Dara, a magical being, who takes her to Daevabad, the hidden city where the daeva/djinn reside.
Daevabad is a strict monarchic patriarchy where a large part of the population is discriminated against through: language, blood color, tribe, vocabulary and anything else the ruling class can concoct. The story constantly explores these themes of prejudice, marginalization and competing versions of history (depending on who you ask). It’s as disorienting for the reader as I imagine it is for Nahri, who is brand new in the city, and it’s very dramatic to see her navigate through this political intrigue.
There’s also a small bit of romance, in the form of a love triangle.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book but it took me a while to read because I lost interest after the middle when it switched from “dangerous epic journey across the land!” to “let’s suddenly be trapped in a snooty place with static upper class drama”. But that’s just me.
The ending is very dramatic and it only sort of leaves you in a cliffhanger. It gives you enough information that you don’t feel cheated out of a good ending, yet it’s shocking enough to make you want to read the sequel ASAP.
There’s a glossary in the back with all the Arabic words used throughout the book; and sadly it doesn’t include a map, but the publisher’s website has one.
I would recommend this to: people who like strong female characters, and someone who would like to read fantasy that isn’t Middle Earthy for once.