Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Shahrzad is going to kill her husband, the king of Rey, to avenge the death of her best friend. At least that’s her plan when she agrees to marry Khalid, the rumored monster king that kills each of the wives he takes at dawn the day following their wedding. Shahrzad awaits for her husband the night after they are married and when he comes to her she begins telling him a story. When dawn arrives, she has yet to finish the story and refuses to finish it until the following night. Khalid, intrigued, agrees to let her live in order to hear the ending the next night. In the meantime, Tariq, Shahrzad’s childhood sweetheart, is set upon rescuing Shahrzad. He enlists his uncle in his plans to rescue Shahrza. As Shahrzad and Khalid spend more time together, Shahrzad realizes that she has growing feelings for this enigma of a boy king. After an attempt is made on Shahrzad’s life by a hired mercenary, Khalid divulges his secret to Shahrzad: when his first wife killed herself, the girl’s father cursed Khalid. He has to kill one hundred wives at dawn or else he will lose the kingdom. Upon unlocking dark magic and joining Tariq’s cause, Shahrzad’s father creates a terrible storm as a distraction for Tariq to steal Shahrzad away, but the storm becomes too intense and the city begins to burn. Shahrzad accompanies Tariq out of the city with the thought to help him understand that she needs to stay with Khalid.
Ahdieh’s writing is gorgeously lyrical and poetic. Her imagery is vivid. She crafts her story around her characters; each character has a story and motives that inform their actions, making them believable, solid, and flushed out. Her story does not have a main antagonist; the characters motivated by power or vengeance make decisions that put all of the other characters in bad situations, and these situations compound upon one another. The author’s emphasis on character development allows the story to seamlessly evolve. And it also allows for some great moral and ethical questions to arise since none of the characters are inherently evil, just motivated by skewed ideals and emotions. Ahdieh does include some very sexualized moments between Khalid and Shahrzad, and there is some mild language. Overall, the story and characters are very compelling and make this book a quick and fun read.
*Contains multiple mild sexual moments and mild language.