First Lines: It would not be a welcome dawn. Already the sky told this story, with its sad halo of silver beckoning from beyond the horizon.
This is one book that I have to give you guys some credit for me reading. When I read A Thousand Nights last year and didn’t care for it, many of you mentioned this book and said it was worth it. I took your word for it.
Ever since Khalid, the 18-year-old caliph, came to power, young girls have been living in fear. Every day, Khalid marries a new girl and every morning at dawn, he kills them. When Shahrzad’s best friend falls victim to Khalid, she’s determined to have her revenge. Not only is she going to stay alive, she’s going to end his reign. Shahrzad quickly gains the caliph’s interest as she weaves stories at night, ending on a cliffhanger until the next night. But Shahrzad never imagined that she’d begin to understand the monster she married. Maybe he’s not actually a monster but a tormented boy. Is it possible she could be falling in love with him? But even if she does love him, she’s not ready to forgive him. She will unravel his secrets and even take his life if she as to.
This was definitely more up my alley than other 1001 Night retellings. It was adorable, dangerous, and mysterious. It was a fun combination.
First of all, I want to say that Shahrzad is actually worth your respect. It would have been so easy for her to be 2-dimensional, silly, and love struck. But she’s not. She’s feisty, stubborn, and vengeful. I mean, that’s the kind of attitude that got Khalid’s attention to begin with, and it’s the life force behind everything she does. She’s headstrong and stubborn, which means it’s more likely that she’s going to bulldoze other characters than she is to become a passive wallflower. It fully surpassed my expectations for her character.
Even Khalid was more interesting than I expected. I figured he’d have some tortured backstory to make us sympathize with him. But it was more than that. He truly was different from how I expected him to be. I can’t really pin down what quality it was that did that.
The plot was more engrossing than I thought it would be as well. (Clearly, I somewhat underestimated this book.) It’s not just about Shahrzad and her thirst for revenge. The story happens to be told from multiple perspectives, though mainly from Shahrzad and Khalid. It’s when these perspectives shift that we get another layer of the story, even if it killed me to be separated from Shahrzad and Khalid. I also got a bit bored when it moved away from these two. I was always waiting to head back to it.
Overall, it was exciting and romantic. I wish I could have gotten through it faster than I did because it really would have been a fantastic experience to read it all in one sitting. (You guys know that feeling, where you lose yourself in the story for hours.)