Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: Hardcover published by GP Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Inspired by 'A Thousand and One Nights', the story follows sixteen year old Shahrzad. She has agreed to marry Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride each night and executes her at sunrise. She crafts a plan to stay alive, so she can avenge the young girls who have died, including her best friend. Each night, she will tell Khalid a story so tantalising that he couldn't possibly kill her without knowing what happens next.
This is the best YA romance I've read since... well, I can't remember the last time I read one this good! A main part of this was because of Shahrzad: the fierce, intelligent and all around awesome heroine. She is so resourceful and brave in a spectacularly dire situation, that I was on her side straight away. Also, it goes without saying that we need more diversity in YA (and books in general), and the Middle Eastern setting and characters were so refreshing!
Now to my favourite part: the romance. It isn't often that I'm so completely invested in a relationship, and even though I could see where it was going I really, really enjoyed watching it unfold! The relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid was painful, complicated, and drawn out long enough that it was especially satisfying!
I also loved Renee Ahdieh's writing style. The sumptuous descriptions evoked the exotic setting, and made for an immersive reading experience. Her metaphors felt fresh and boundary pushing, and devoid of eye-rolling cliches.
There were a couple of aspects that I would've liked more of, the first being the stories. I really enjoyed the tales that Shahrzad told Khalid early on, in her efforts to keep his interest and stay alive. As soon as their relationship developed, the stories disappeared and I wanted to see more of them. I was also really intrigued by the touches of magic, and wanted to know more about the developing powers of certain characters.
All I can say is that I want more of this world, and these characters. I need to know what happens next! I can't recommend this book highly enough, and I'm very excited about the sequel due out next year.
If you liked the sound of this, now try:
-An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
-The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
-Need by Carrie Jones