In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth, a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University, travels to Damascus to immerse herself in the Syrian language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always as they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and a murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.
My Rating:3.5/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If there is one word that I would have to describe Gazelle In The Shadows it would be intense. Going into it I had only a very vague idea of what to expect and I came out of the book with a much better understanding of Syria in the 90s and this exalting feeling of being over with this wild journey. I finished this book in about two sittings which these days doesn’t happen that often. While I did enjoy it there were some qualms that I had that made my rating not as high as it could have been.
You could really tell that the author knew Syria very well. Her familiarity with the country bled out in the way that she described the people and the setting. It’s so important to be able to accurately depict the setting especially when you’re writing about somewhere that most people haven’t been to and Peach did a really great job in situating the reader. If anything I would have loved just a little bit more description. It certainly wouldn’t have been difficult for the author as she has a lot of experiences to draw on and I think it would’ve really enhanced the reader.
Another thing that was great was the writing style! It was very simple but it flowed super well and the simplicity aided in focusing in on the intense moments. As someone who struggles immensely with writing description, i really admired the way Peach described all of the MCs emotions and just the setting in general. She had a very masterful grasp on language.
So while I did really enjoy the intense plot of the book and loved how I kept on guessing throughout the entire story at times I was a little confused and found that it moved a little too quickly. Some things could’ve been more focus on while others could’ve just been reduced substantially. Also just a little bit more background would have been nice.
The other problem that I have with the book was the characters. While I didn’t have a direct problem with them, I did kind of feel as though they weren’t as developed as they could have been. Especially in terms of the MC, Elizabeth. She was a very interesting character with some complex motivations and emotions and I would’ve liked just a little bit more. All the elements were there, they just needed to be amplified.
What’s Your Favorite Book Set in a Non-Western Setting?