The Bird King

G. Willow Wilson    Pages: 402      Published: 2019

The book: Spain, 1491. Fatima is a concubine in the court of a sultan in the last Spanish emirate. Her best friend, Hassan, has magical powers and is the royal mapmaker. A delegation from the Spanish monarchy arrives and demands the sultan surrender his land and his people to them. Within the delegation is a representative of the Inquisition who takes a particular interest in Fatima and Hassan. Why are they of interest to the Inquisitor? What will become of them, the sultan and his city?

You might like it because: This is a wonderful story of friendship, love, and a journey of discovery. Wilson’s writing is a delight. She masterfully meshes historical fiction and magical realism to produce a book I could not put down.

What did other people say?
“It’s deeply beautiful and wondrously sad, and I can’t tell if it ended too quickly or if I just needed it not to – if I just wanted to dwell in a home built out of story for a little longer yet.”  –  NPR

“A thoughtful and beautiful balance between the real and the fantastic.” – Kirkus Reviews

Awards & Recognition:
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2019

How quickly will you get into the book? In the first chapter Wilson introduces us to the two main protagonists, Fatima and Hassan. They are such compelling characters that by the end of that chapter (page 22) I had no choice but to read on.

You might not like it because: For some readers, the plot, at times, may move too slowly. If you don’t enjoy a little bit of magic with your historical fiction, move on.

What might you read next?
A djinn (supernatural spirit) appears in The Bird King. You could read another book where a djinn appears in the story, but this one set in modern times; Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela.

Or read a novel that moves between fifteenth-century Spain and New Mexico in the 1990s. The link between the two places and times being the Jewish people who fled to the new world from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Pick up Gateway to the Moon: A Novel by Mary Morris.

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