When Shahrzad’s dearest friend becomes a victim to the the murderous ways of the boy-king Khalid, she vows revenge. Each night he marries, only for the new bride to end up with a silk noose around her neck. Shahrzad promises that she will last more than one night and get revenge for all the girls who have perished because of him. She enchants Khalid with a story, night after night, and she keeps surviving. The longer she lives, the more she realizes Khalid is nothing like she assumed, but falling for him seems like a huge betrayal of her promise to her friend.
This was a book I was really excited to read but also really nervous because I have s a lot of hype about it, which can be dangerous in a book. Before even opening the book to the first page, I already had so many questions. The main question was: could I actually get lost in the romance that seemed like it would play a huge part in the book?
I liked Shahrzad. She was very cunning and brave and she could be very sassy, which I loved, but she was also naive. She excelled in storytelling and in challenging Khalid, both qualities that were important in keeping her alive. She wasn’t one to just not do something she wanted even if it was frowned upon for the queen to do so. She was a very determined young woman and I loved her fire and her passion.
I also liked that, while Shahrzad was the main POV, there were a bunch of other characters’ POVs through the book so the reader could see what was going on with characters not attached to the palace. It worked well in setting up for future battles and showed some very interesting characters.
The romance, I wasn’t completely sold on, but I liked that I wasn’t completely sold on it. Whatever reasoning Khalid had, he was still a murderer and Shahrzad’s intentions had been to avenge her friend’s death, to stop the murders. It was impossible to forget that and, even when they were falling in love, they were both still guarded with secrets. I did get sold on the friendships. They were great. From the newness of Shahrzad and her handmaiden Despina, to older friendships like Khalid and his cousin Jalal, or Tariq and Rahim who knew Shahrzad before she became queen. I would probably read a book where those six did nothing but bicker and banter with each other because it was that entertaining.
The plot was a bit slow in this first book. There was a lot to set up and reveal so it wasn’t a quick read. It was one of those books where it felt like every small detail could be important later on so I wanted to take time and not miss anything. The action really started picking up in the last quarter where it got very hard to read slowly because I just wanted to know what was going to happen.
A great debut that has me very excited for the next book.