Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Series: I’m not actually sure. I’m hoping this is a series! For now, though, I think it’s a stand alone.
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure, Retelling
Source: E-Galley from NetGalley
I LOVED THIS BOOK, GUYS. That’s all I’ll say for now except here’s your synopsis from Amazon:
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
1. I cannot sing Shazi’s praises enough! Talk about an awesomely awesome heroine!!!
Shazi is so awesome. When I first started this book, I was super confused as to what was going on (which, of course, was the point). However, I was drawn in by Shazi immediately. Let’s make a list of the incredible things she does (without spoiling anything): She volunteers herself to be the king’s wife when she knows all of his wives die at dawn; she fearlessly shows her hatred towards the king on their wedding night; she knows how to keep him enthralled by stories; finally, she convinces him to let her train with weapons even though she’s basically a prisoner. HOW. FREAKING. AWESOME. I won’t say much more about her because spoilers, but just know how amazing she is.
2. Tariq. I want to punch him in his stupid face.
Tariq is Shazi’s first love from her childhood home. Tariq is annoying. Just when everything was going SO smoothly, he had to show up and WRECK EVERYTHING. This really didn’t have much weight in my review, but I wanted to throw it in there.
3. I loved that this was a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights!
Now, I have never read A Thousand and One Nights, so you’ll have to forgive my ignorance. However, it was SO awesome! I was always simultaneously happy and sad and scared. The king is so dreamy. I can’t even tell you how hard I swooned. Not to mention: THE CLOTHES. Ahdieh described such wonderful, lush fabrics that I felt I was wearing them as Shazi was. For a writer to get that descriptive astounds me. Not only that, but the authentic FOOD. Everything that was described sounded so incredibly wonderful that I would look at my gross American food and long for things I’d never had (e.g. the food in this book).
4. You wouldn’t expect Shazi to have any friends at the palace (I mean, she’s basically a prisoner), but she ends up having a best friend who I adore.
Despina is amazing. I love her friendship with Shazi so much. The first thing Despina says to Shazi is that she is a spy. We never truly find out if this is true, but Shazi is wary of her anyway. The friendship that blossoms between these two women isn’t explored TOO deeply, but you can tell from the first time you see them together that they feel affection for each other.
5. The themes of love vs. duty in this book are heavy and I love them.
This book is rife with the sense of duty vs. the love someone has for another. Not only is it the main story arc, but other characters suffer, too. It is completely heartbreaking only because Ahdieh’s writing is so beautiful and engrossing. I really don’t know what it’s like to have to turn a person down because of duty, but Ahdieh made it seem so vivid that I felt like I actually did. I was rooting so hard for everyone in this book. I set this book down for a time, then decided to come back to it (this was a good life choice) and even though I set it down for about a week, it was still just as engrossing as when I first started.
6. I feel like this review is all over the place, and here’s why:
It is insanely difficult to write a review for a book you loved. This was fantastically done and written so beautifully. There is so much that I want to tell you, but I have to tread carefully here. I don’t want to spoil anything for you! Just trust me when I say how incredible this book was.
OVERALL: 5 STARS!! I will actually give this all of the stars. I’m usually not super into the all engrossing love, but this was fantastic. Not only was there love, there was action, adventure, and just a touch of magic. I am desperately hoping there is a second book because I NEED to know what happens after this book ends. I had tears in my eyes upon finishing this. Were they good tears or bad tears? I won’t tell you. You’ll just have to read it to find out! Click the link below to pre-order!