For Khadija, the only escape from her father’s arranged betrothal is the sky. When she spots a rogue hot air balloon fighting against its ropes, she leaps at the chance for adventure.
Khadija soon finds an unlikely ally in a poor glassmaker’s apprentice, Jacob. But Jacob is a hāri, and Khadija a Ghadaean.
The hāri are oppressed and restless―their infamous terrorist group, the Hāreef, have a new fearsome leader. And the ruling Ghadaeans are brutal in their repression. Soon, a deadly revolution threatens their friendship and their world. The Hāreef use forbidden magic, summoning jinn―wicked spirits made of fire―to enact their revenge, forcing Jacob and Khadija to choose what kind of a world they want to save…
My dream literary dinner party guestlist by Aneesa Marufu
I am Aneesa Marufu, author of The Balloon Thief, a South Asian inspired YA fantasy that tells the story of main characters Khadija and Jacob from two opposing races, who are forced to put their differences aside to tackle a greater threat, and in doing so learn the importance of friendship and forgiveness. The book is perfect for fans of Noughts & Crosses, The City of Brass and We Hunt the Flame.
My dream literary dinner party guestlist would have to include one of my favourite childhood authors, Malorie Blackman. Her Noughts & Crosses series was a huge inspiration for The Balloon Thief and is what made me first fall in love with reading.
The second author I would invite is Khaled Hosseini. His books are both beautiful and heart breaking, and I would love the chance to learn more about the author behind books such as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, two books that will definitely stay with me forever.
Not quite an author, but a fictional character that I would invite is Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. I just love how much of a no-nonsense badass she is, and I think she’d bring a lot of fun to a party!
My final guest is actually a character from my own book and is my main antagonist, Vera, who is the leader of the terrorist group known as The Hāreef. Despite her wayward intentions, in her heart is only her fierce love for her son and her desire to be reunited with him, which is what leads her down a very dark path. I think it would be fascinating to get inside her head!
I would serve my guests baklava, as I love how pretty and elegant these pastries are and think they would make a perfect dinner party dish. I would, of course, serve my baklava with unlimited amounts of strong coffee, which seems to be the drink of choice for any writer who is accustomed to staying up into the early hours frantically trying to finish a chapter before their inspiration dries up!
The Balloon Thief is published by Chicken House Books
Aneesa Marufu lives in Manchester, UK, and when she isn’t running around after her children she’s hunting for a new book to escape into. She was the winner of the Kimberley Chambers Kickstart Prize in 2019 and The Balloon Thief, her debut novel, is inspired by her British Asian heritage.
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