I am beyond torn.
This book was HUGE last year and it’s had my interest ever since. However, I decided to read it because of that cover, since I am weak like that. My friend Janel @ Keeper of Pages was so kind to get this one for me and I decided to read it right away. People have said to me before that this is a good Romance book for people who don’t like or read Romance, so I wasn’t expecting a full blown Fantasy from this. I knew what I was getting myself into. And still. I am left super conflicted about my feelings. Let’s dive into why.
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I think one of the best aspects of the book is Ahdieh’s writing. It’s lush and gorgeous, and this book is in turn so quotable. For example:
“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”
Or this gem:
“This dangerous girl. This captivating beauty.
This destroyer of worlds and creator of wonder.”
However, I hate to say this, but I think this kind of writing is wasted on this story. Let me explain why.
To me, there’s no real substance here. It sounds so bad when you say it like that, but that’s exactly how it feels. The book sort of tries to lure you into this lush kind of setting, but it all seems superficial. Even the characters seem interesting only on the surface. There’s really not much in this to latch on to, there’s no real strong footing in this story. It just seems hollow.
Like I said, people have said that this is a good Romance for people who don’t like Romance. And I can sort of see that. This is a romance novel disguised in a Fantasy book, so I can see how that would appeal to people who don’t usually read romance. However. I love romance. I read it all the time, I get really invested in relationships in all the books. And this one was difficult for me. This has a premise of being a hate to love romance, because Shazi, our main character, gets married to an evil king who takes a bride each day and kills them every night. Shahrzad’s best friend is taken and killed, and she wants to avenge her. So there’s so much hate there. But that hate gets turned over so quickly, it seemed completely unbelievable to me. She goes from absolute disgust (which isn’t even portrayed that well) to complete infatuation in a couple of chapters. And Khalid’s infatuation with her also makes very little sense. It happens so fast and has no anchor in the story.
BUT. Ahdieh is such a good writer. Seriously. Her romantic banter is so well written and executed I was having trouble not loving the romance and the characters. She completely bought me with that. I am a sucker for good romance, and while I didn’t love this romance, I loved how Ahdieh wrote it. And she totally got me.
There isn’t much else to say. There’s no world building here and there’s no actual plot. It’s all super flimsy and non coherent and it doesn’t really do much. I did really enjoy the characters of Jalal and Despina, I think they are a good addition, albeit a bit underdeveloped. Like the whole of the novel really.
I was so torn about this. In the end, I’d say go into for the gorgeous writing and witty banter, and don’t expect too much of it. And then you will find yourself enjoying it.
Final verdict: 3.5 stars
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Have you read this one? Any thoughts you’d like to share? Do you agree with some of mine? Let me know!
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