Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Genre: YA, fantasy
First published: 2015
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Synopsis: 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.
This was a very anticipated book for me. I wanted to read it ever since I first heard about it back in 2015, but for some reason, I didn’t actually pick it up until now. I really love stories and Arabian Nights was one of my favourite collection of stories. So I was eager to read a retelling of it. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of stories. I was expecting more than one story. I did enjoy the book overall though, but it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.
Besides the lack of stories, another thing that disappointed me was the love triangle. Just… ugh. I hate love triangles. Also, the relationship between Sharzad and Khalid went from 0 to 100 way too quickly for my liking and I don’t really get why Shazi fell in love with him, because he’s very reserved and unreadable and impenetrable.
I did really love the setting. It was a good change from European settings and Oriental settings are among my favourites. The writing was very atmospheric and evocative, very visual and I really enjoyed that.
I liked Shahrzad as a character. She’s very volatile and impulsive and most of the time I find that annoying in characters, but with her it works. And she’s a badass archer <3. I actually liked the characters in general. They were by far the best aspect of the book, because plot-wise… there wasn’t much.
Which is why I’m not the biggest fan of the cliffhanger. It was very abrupt and there hadn’t been enough going on in the book before that to warrant such a cliffhanger. But it does promise a lot more going on in the sequel, so I’m hopeful for that. I’m curious especially about the magic that was mostly just hinted at in this one.
So overall, I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as all they hype is. I will be reading the second one though, despite being a bit disappointed by this one.