“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”
Blurb (Goodreads)- In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
Thoughts- I am honestly at a loss for words to express how much I loved this. This book is by far one of the most captivating and beautiful stories I’ve read this year, and I’m beyond excited to dive into the sequel.
Let me paint you a picture. I have been in a funky off and on reading slump for nearly all of 2016 and I think this is the book that is finally pulling me out of that. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and just read for hours, but today I woke up around 9 AM and by 2:30 PM and 300 pages later I was done.
The first thing that truly drew me in was the setting and Ahdieh’s writing style. I personally have never read anything set in the Khorasan region and in this time period. While I’m familiar of the original story of A Thousand and One Nights, this retelling was a refreshing take on it. The author’s prose is also so beautiful and flows so well. Her chapters are the perfect length to keep you reading and interested in the story. Every single chapter is just so captivating and I never wanted to stop reading.
Then we have some of the most wonderful characters. To start out, Shahrzad is such an amazing protagonist, and she’s got a lot of my favorite main character qualities. She’s snarky and brutally honest, but also knows when to be humble. She’s also not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, which in a story like this is so vitally important. Shahrzad simply has a very distinct personality that makes her stand out from other “straight out of the box” protagonists. I think she defies the standards set upon her by her situation, which makes me respect her even more. Then our other main character is Khalid, oh the wonderfully complex Khalid. At first, he does fit right into the gossip description given, a monster. However, as the story progresses Khalid really develops and just like Shahrzad I felt my heart leaning a different way. Khalid is definitely added to my book boyfriend list!
My favorite part of the book is how real these characters felt. Despina and Jalal, while not main characters, still had the perfect amount of development for the reader to care about them and start to understand who they are. Even quite minor characters like the Rajput (who is still very mysterious) are written in such a way that you can’t help care for them. Of course, I care very little for Tariq and his story line just because he suffers the exact same fate as characters like Mal (Grisha trilogy) and Adam (Shatter Me series) where he is possessive and doesn’t seem to have much reason for loving the main character.
Obviously, this is a very character driven novel, but it is pulled off so very well. Yet, I still really loved the story because it’s a story created through multiple different tales. I was never once bored by the story, and while there were certainly point of views I cared for more than others, each point of view was still valuable to the overall plot.
Let it also be known that I adore the romance in this and want more of it. I want all the romance between Khalid and Shahrzad ever.
Overall, I absolute loved this book. If you’re like me and hesitant to pick up this book because of all the hype, go ahead and give it a try because I think it is very worthy of the hype. Plus now is the perfect time to read them because the whole series is out and you can marathon them!