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About The Book

“Enchanting, immersive, and beautifully imagined.” —A.F. Steadman, New York Times bestselling author of Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

“Perfect for fans of Philip Pullman and Tahereh Mafi” (Booklist), this lavish middle grade adventure follows a girl who must travel to a mystical land of sorceresses, alchemists, jinn, and flying carpets to discover her heritage and fulfill her destiny.

My own Yara, if you are reading this, then something terrible has happened, and you are on your own. To return to the city of Zehaira, you must read out the words on the back of this letter… Good luck, my brave girl.

When twelve-year-old Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map—Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists, and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme—and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach.

Yara must summon all her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity…and to find her place in this magical new world.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Henry Harrison

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. She’s the author of The Kingdom Over the Sea series. 

Why We Love It

“Just as Yara is swept across a mystical sea to Zehaira, author Zohra Nabi will transport you to a magical new world with her unforgettable voice and gorgeous descriptive powers. The brave, indomitable Yara will capture your heart from the first page, and that’s not even to mention the incredible side characters like Leyla, the no-nonsense sorceress with mysterious connections to Yara’s past; Rafi, the young sorcerer-in-training who hates magic; and Ajal, the gloomy jinn who wants you to know that he does not—does not—care about Yara and is just sticking around out of a sense of duty. So when you’re ready for it, Zehaira is here waiting for you!”

—Sarah M., Senior Editor, on The Kingdom over the Sea

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (June 6, 2023)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665931106
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

"Enchanting, immersive, and beautifully imagined. Once I’d finished, I couldn’t stop dreaming of this magnificent magical world."

– A.F. Steadman, author of the New York Times bestseller Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

"Nabi’s debut is a portal fantasy inspired by folktales and stories from Iraq, creating a fully realized fantasy world where injustice occurs just like in ours, and it takes strong-hearted children like Yara to make change. While the pacing makes it slow to reach the main plot, the land is full of adventure, with a secret settlement full of sorcerers, trips on flying carpets, and dangerous conspiracies. Accompanied by illustrations, this new series is perfect for fans of Philip Pullman and Tahereh Mafi."

– Booklist, 6/1/23

"That Yara ends up having (unconventional) magic of her own might be expected, but by then readers will have already formed an attachment to the determined, bighearted hero. The setting—an Arab-coded world that simmers with magic—is richly described and populated by complex people and jinn. The ending wraps the action up a bit abruptly but looks forward to more dangers and adventures in the sequel.
A debut that marks the author as an exciting storyteller to watch."

– Kirkus Reviews, 5/1/23

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More books from this author: Zohra Nabi

More books in this series: The Kingdom Over the Sea