“Many things are hidden on the bodies covered by oppression.”
In Saudi Arabia, where women’s bodies are deemed the inferior possessions of men, where female sexuality is regulated for the continuation of a sexist regime, an erotic and formidable woman arises from the ashes of patriarchal horror.
Trapped and suspected of treachery, Mazahl seeks to overcome the oppressors denying her freedom in the midst of ever increasing danger. The conflict between the sexual control and her erotic nature pushes Mazahl to rebellion, as she seeks to escape the suffocating fortress. (Goodreads)
I am so grateful to the author, S.V. Atla for gifting me a copy of this extraordinary book in exchange for an honest review. I was really intrigued with it because I rarely get to read stories set in Saudi Arabia. I’ve taken some time to really gather my thoughts on this book, because it was a challenging read in more ways than one.
Mazahl, our heroine, is just like any other normal person with a sense of self expression, career goals, scholarly ambitions and sexual desires. However, she is also one of a kind.
“Beauty doesn’t give anyone the right to lay claim to a woman.”
She is a woman just beginning to discover her mystic powers. Being born in a country with very conservative laws, she has always been forced to maintain a subservient attitude to avoid detection of her uniqueness. When she was younger, she barely escaped from a possibly harmful exorcism by using this powerful aura as a shield, and has used it to protect herself over the years.
“Her penetrating capacity to see into their souls and the truth of their essence.”
It is quite unclear what exactly her powers are, but it has a lot to do with how she is able to control her spiritual energy to affect those around her. To be honest I would also love to have her ability of emasculating macho men telepahically 😈 Her powers will prove to be an effective tool against men with bad intentions, in healing emotional trauma, and for an extra intense erotic encounter. Yes you read that right: if you are someone who likes erotica, this book has enough steamy scenes that will surely satisfy you 👍🏻 I also liked how it showed a lot of female self-care (if you know what I mean 😉)
“No human being, in this world or any other, should ever have to apologize for truly loving another.”
Aside from the misogynist themes, this book also touches on a lot of brave topics: women loving women, hedonism, rape, slavery, classism, racism and polygamous love. I am quite surprised that a lot of misogynist views and practices are still rampant on this day and age. Like I mentioned earlier, the challenge of reading this is that there is just so much to take in 😱
I only had issues on the writing style that has a tendency to be overly descriptive. The hate for the mysoginist culture also sounded repetitive after some time. I do understand the novel’s frustration on female misogyny. It’s so sad how women often contribute to the problem of this sexist world–unconsciously or not. I just felt at times that there was too much hate for men and the patriarchy all throughout the book and so I can’t recall any good thing mentioned about Saudi Arabia itself as a country and as a home. It would have been also interesting to have seen that balance. The dialogues are heavily figurative and not at all conversational. I unfortunately have a tendency to get lost in highfalutin words–but that is just my personal taste.
“This war is not between men and women, races or religions, but rather it’s a conflict between spirituality and materialism, ego and soul.”
This book has forced me to recognize anything and everything that may have been structured in the modern world to benefit only a few privileged entities. I myself is a rationalist and a secularist and still this book has given me a lot to think about and really challenged me on how I see rationalism as a school of thought.
“You’re not mad, but the world is.”
For such a conservative country the people in this novel certainly seem to like and enjoy talking about sex–maybe as a result of the repressed environment. There is something powerful about the book’s message that sexuality need not be repressed, it is a beautiful and healthy thing to have and it depends on the individual if his/her sexuality will be seen as a weakness or a strength. Be that as it may, society still has a huge role in how we accept our individuality and a healthy and fair community is essential to this freedom of self.
In conclusion, this is really one memorable and extraordinary book with its enchanting mixture of erotica, surrealism and magical realism. Go grab a copy if you’re into brave and controversial content! Just prepare yourself to get lost in Mazahl’s world 🌸