One of my favourite books of the year so far!!!
We follow the story of a young king who is a monster. Every day he marries a new girl and then at dawn she is put to death. When Shahrzad’s best friend is the king’s latest victim she vows to have her revenge and volunteers to be his new bride.
I loved Shahrzad’s tenacity and quick wit. I thought she was funny and clever and completely immovable. She is already struggling with the death of her best friend and choosing to put herself in the same position and entirely in the hands of her friends’ murderer I found to be very courageous. I loved her arc within the story, starting off quite detached and filled with rage and almost obsessing about figuring out the secrets of the king and why he had to murder all of these girls. Then to see her struggle internally with her feelings and the guilt that is brought about because of that really had me invested.
Khalid I was really drawn to from the start. I wanted to not like him because of what he did, but the mystery surrounding why definitely had me intrigued! I liked how he is so observant and attentive to Shazi’s needs and he isn’t afraid to admit to what he has done and won’t hide from it. He fully embraces his past and the way that he finally divulged the true story to Shazi showed his absolute trust and commitment to her.
For some reason I didn’t really warm to Tariq. I think because we don’t get to see him and Shazi together and see how their relationship really is. We are just kind of told that they are in love and not shown it. I love how dedicated he is to Shazi, especially once he has heard what she has done and proceeds to speed off to the capital to rescue her. I thought that was very noble of him and showed the depth of his love. But I didn’t necessary feel that reciprocated by Shazi… all I got from her is kind is guilt that she has feeling for the man who murdered her best friend, not really anything about the many years they have supposedly been in love.
There is so much collusion and schemes weaving throughout the story and the pacing really helped set the scene for the book. I loved the slow build up of anticipation and tension throughout the course of the storyline and I was super entertained during all of it! The setting is wonderful as well, the Middle Eastern cultural elements add distinction and depth to the book which I highly appreciated.
The magical elements of the story weren’t really explained forthright. I appreciated what we did get to see but I kind of want more. I can see Shazi learning to hone her abilities and maybe, just maybe be the one to absolve Khalid…
I have a lot of questions that need answering and I definitely have one or two theories about what is going to happen next! I love that this is a duology as well because this first book really set the tone perfectly and I am itching to continue on with The Rose and the Dagger!
⭐️5/5 Renee Ahdieh might be one of my new favourite authors!!!