Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Year Published: 2015
Brief Summary: The kingdom of Khorasan is ruled by it murderous 18-year-old caliph, Khalid. Every night, Khalid marries a daughter of the kingdom and by dawn she is dead. No one knows why Khalid does this. All the kingdom can think is that he must be a soulless madman. 16-year-old Shahrzad’s best friend becomes one of the boy-king’s wives, and falls as his next victim. Shahrzad, devastated by her death, volunteers herself to be his next wife and secretly plots to take revenge on her best friend. She bests the caliph and keeps herself alive by telling him stories every night, but soon, Shazi realizes Khalid may not be the monster that the kingdom seems to think he is. There is much more than meets the eye, and knowing the truth may not only destroy Khalid and Shahrzad, but the kingdom of Khorasan as well.
Writing: Ahdieh’s writing in this story was absolutely captivating. At no point in the story did I find the writing awkward, the transitions misplaced, or the descriptions over-bearing and dense. Khorasan was a real place in my mind; I could see the palace’s gardens being pelted with rain, I could smell the cardamom and spices rising from Shazi’s tea, and I could feel the layers of silk enveloping me as Despina ran her hands over which garment she would choose for Shahrzad to wear next.
Plot: The plot fell easily into place with Ahdieh’s gorgeous writing accompanying it. I could feel Shahrzad’s uneasiness as she began to realize what feelings she may truly have for Khalid. I somewhat saw this coming, but even so, I was glad that it happened. As she learns more about Khalid, so does the reader, so we begin to develop the same emotions that Shazi does as she begins to feel them. I had a feeling that something was not right with Khalid; that he wasn’t just what others saw of him outside the palace walls. Also, although this was based on One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, it still had its own unique qualities; enough to set it apart from the old classic. The inclusion of magic (and the danger of it) definitely gave it its own type of intrigue; something that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book, and keeps me on the edge as I wait for the sequel to be released.
Characters: I loved every single character in this book. And when I mean love, I mean I love how deeply each of them were developed. Shahrzad was as sassy and headstrong as her friends describe her. Khalid was dark and mysteriously attractive. Ahdieh did a wonderful job of showing that the murderous boy king is nothing more than a man that is trying to find the ability to love after all the tragedy he has gone through. I especially enjoyed Despina and Jalal. They are the perfect side characters to Shahrzad and Khalid. Tariq was overbearing and Jahandar was definitely sketchy, but I believe they were purposely written that way, so they were done quite well also.
Overall: This was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this summer. At first I was disappointed that this was going to be a series, as there are hardly any stand-alones coming out these days. However, once I finished the book, I knew I wanted more. I’m so glad there’s going to be a sequel. The Rose and The Dagger can’t come any sooner!
(UPDATE: I read this book and wrote this review in 2015…it is now 2017, and I have read the sequel. Sadly I did not write a review for that one but I will say this: I did not like it. At all. Oops.)