The Istanbul Intrigue by Melati Lum

When Melati Lum reached out to me on IG, I fangirled a little.

OK I lied – I couldn’t sleep for the night, wildly anticipating her book to arrive on the shores of Singapore! This Australian-based author (and Jill of all Trades), puts a refreshing twist to the oft-portrayed cool-headed, broodingly pensive, crime-busting detective, enigmatic Sherlock with an annoyingly nonchalant demeanour. See, not only is the main character of her book a female, but a young, curious, independent, kick-ass Muslim one at that! Think Nancy Drew, with a hijab on. She’s more than just meets the eye.

In The Istanbul Intrigue,  Ayesha Dean goes on an adventure with her two close friends, Jessica and Sarah, to Istanbul. When she discovered a mysterious note in a book she found at an old bookshop at the bustling Grand Bazaar, she began on a journey to find for clues and get help to decipher the message in the note. She was more determined than ever to put the missing pieces of the puzzle together. It’s a thrilling journey of staying undercover from the bad guys, gobbling up yummy kebabs for lunch, whilst exploring the beauty of Istanbul’s rich culture and history.

I personally think more impressionable, Muslim (or non) pre-teens should follow Ayesha Dean’s adventures because of its relatable content and accessible language, and The Istanbul Intrigue is a good place to start! A light, quick, page-turning read which didn’t take me more than a day to complete.

Growing up reading books largely with a western bias (Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, etc.), while there is nothing inherently wrong with it, inevitably shapes our worldview in a certain manner. I’m glad there is a rising interest amongst youths in local literature, and literature from other parts of the world these days. Being exposed to alternative narratives is always more encouraged than purely consuming eurocentric texts which have been conveniently pervading our literature platter since we learnt how to read. The novelty of this novel brings to light the modern and interesting take on this relatively untapped YA literature segment, which is definitely something I am greatly inspired by! I’m confident Ayesha Dean will pave the way for a generation of more Ayeshas – a young lady, firm in faith with her own idiosyncrasies, who’s always up for an adrenaline rush of adventures…

Largely YA with a bit of chick lit, a dash of mystery, a sprinkle of history, travel, and a hijabi heroine leading the way… and you have The Istanbul Intrigue in a nutshell. You can get a copy right over here 🙂

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