By Renee Ahdieh
This book was a creative reimagining of One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern fairy tales. This story begins the same way: a king marries a new virgin bride every night only to execute her at dawn. Eventually one woman volunteers to be the king’s new bride, knowing full well what her fate will be. Shahrzad volunteers as tribute to the king and vows to avenge her best friend Shiva, who was the last bride to be sacrificed. Shahrzad begins to tell the king a story on her first night in the palace and the king is so enamored with her storytelling that he delays her execution so he can hear the end of her story. By allowing herself to get close to him, Shahrzad slowly starts to unravel the king’s many secrets. As much as this book contains a lot of the elements of the traditional story, there are twists and alternative motives for the characters that keep the plot interesting and mysterious. I really liked Shahrzad’s tenacity and her resolve to do what needs to be done to protect herself and others. Women do not garner as much respect as men do in the setting of this book, so it was great to see such a strong female protagonist. The ending got me; I had no idea what was coming and that’s a good thing, although my eagerness to read the next book has increased ten fold since finishing this one. An enchanting read, full of intrigue and adventure with a romance for the ages.
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