Why did you choose this book?
I read the first volume last year, before I started this blog. I found myself immediately inhabiting Sharhzad’s world and rooting for this strong woman and her love.
What’s it about?
The first novel in this two-volume set is a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights. In this novel, Sharhzad’s newfound life as the calipha has fallen down and she is living in a desert camp with her ill father and younger sister. Khalid remains in the capital to rebuild. Sharhzad wants to be by his side, but also feels a duty to her family and a need to master her magic (she can make objects fly). Sharhzad’s childhood sweetheart, Tariq, leads an army bent on destroying Khalid, her true love.
Teen fiction, folklore retelling
Other recommended reads?
Clearly, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (the first in this series). Also the original folktale on which the books are based. If you’re interested in Middle Eastern fantasy or fiction, I would also try Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes or Holly Bodger’s 5 to 1.
This is the most all-encompassing and fantastically good work of fiction I have read in a while. I even found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it, which is rare for me these days. However, I wish that the author had done a recapping of the events of the first book. There were several points when I found myself lost because it had been so long since I read the first one. I also sometimes find Shahrzad a little too self-centered.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly