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?
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights.
I had to give this one a day to settle in my brain. There was a lot I really enjoyed and the initial rush after I finished left me thinking it’d be a 4-star rating.
But it just didn’t feel right.
After reviewing everything I took in I realized what I thought of as the story’s shortcomings.
Again, there are a ton of lovely things about this story. The romance scenes were steamy, but not obscene. The overlapping of the character narratives was nicely spun. And Despina is perhaps the best handmaiden in all the lands~ The language is lovely, descriptive, and full of cultural references and language.
So, what happened?
Well, first, boy, did feelings come out of nowhere quickly. Mostly on Shahrzad’s part. To be fair there was no clear passage of time, so what felt like four days to me could have been months… but I don’t think so. She’s all “I will avenge my friend and countless before her,” and a couple chapters later she wants him to kiss her. I just couldn’t feel the connection between them. It reeked of Disney infatuation, which hey! I love Disney! But just didn’t make me swoon or root for their love.
My other main concern were both best friends of the Love Triangle men were pretty much the same. As much as I love sarcastic, snarky, funny, best friend guy two in the same story playing the same role on opposing sides of the romance? Meh. Character building could have gone better to make them more individualized.
That being said, there were some fantastic characters in here: Shahrzad’s father fascinated me, Despina wrenched my heart in two, Yasmine and Khalid were well made. I enjoyed Shahrzad’s comebacks to those who belittled her, but I didn’t see her intelligence beyond that. I was promised plans and stories, and I never got it.
All in all, a solid 3. I’ll read the sequel someday, but my excitement has dwindled and I’m in no rush.