A girl is married to the Caliph of Khorasan for one night. The next day, she is hung. Every dawn, a girl dies at the hands of the boy-king.
Shahrzad is determined to be the first to survive the dawn.
What good would she be in killing the boy-king if she was dead?
I really liked this book. Like it made me gush and flail. But at the same time, there were several points in the story that I thought were lacking or could have been developed further.
First, let’s talk about the awesome:
- Persian retelling
Heck yes to diversity! This was inspired by A Thousand and One Nights and my fascination about the culture grew as I read on. I love the storyception and how it wasn’t used as a tidbit of extra information but made the story and themes more complex.
2. Interesting plot
The premise was great. The plot flowed quite nicely and I liked the different twists that were added in. It has wonderful potential to develop more intricate storylines and subplots.
3. Detailed writing
It painted a glorious picture of the setting and what was going on. And the food…I salivated way too often. There were times, however, where I thought it told more than showed but it didn’t happen too often.
4. Imperfect characters
Shahrzad reminded me a bit of Nyx from Cruel Beauty because they both had a lot of hatred inside of them. Shahrzad is distrustful and is outspoken. She refuses to become anybody’s possession and she can shoot a bow and arrow. Plus she takes no s**t from anyone, much less the all-powerful boy-king. And I like that! It’s different and she’s still a pretty compelling character.
Khalid was developed extremely well. Behind the cold facade of a killer, lies a fragile boy. Someone who had to grow up too fast, someone who had to bear the weight of the world and the people living on it. I immediately warmed up to him.
And the side characters were awesome too! Jalal wasn’t perfect, what with his arrogance and his flirtiness, but he was loyal and kind. Despina was such a kick-ass girl and she kept up with Shahrzad in terms of spunk and fierceness.
5. The romance
*fans self* Shahrzad and Khalid work together. Tariq and Shahrzad? Nope. Okay, granted, they were never going to be endgame but we don’t get a sense that they were in love other than Tariq telling everyone that he was in love with Shahrzad. With Khalid and Shahrzad, there was development: the intrigue, the questions, and despite unveiling troubling secrets about each other they never stopped caring. The beginning was rocky in terms of how the relationship got started but every moment when they were in love was so sweet.
I love you, a thousand times over. And I will never apologize for it.
Excuse me while I bawl about how beautiful that is.
But then there were elements that I thought weren’t done as well as I thought.
- The need for subtlety for those scenes.
You know that scene? The first night? It was so subtle that I actually missed it. Yes, it’s YA, but readers won’t squirm and make squealing noises at s-e-x. I think there was another mention of sex that was made later on in the book but I can’t be too sure (FYI, I’m not talking about the scene at the end of the book but the one before that).
2. Too much jumping around between characters.
Unfortunately, I felt like I never could connect with Shahrzad emotionally. I understood her anger and her need for revenge but she felt so distant from me. Her thoughts and feelings were never conveyed very well and that’s strange, considering how conflicted she must be feeling. There were just too many characters and not enough pages to establish an emotional bond with all of them.
3. The romance
I know I said the romance was on my list of awesome-things-about-W&D but I didn’t understand how the romance came into being. Why did Khalid spare Shahrzad? There was a hint of his reasons for doing so when he commented about how she was the only one who talked to him that way, but don’t tell me that that’s the only reason why. What made Khalid fall in love with Shahrzad?
4. Too little of…
Magic. I want more of Shahrzad’s powers. I just want more fantastical magicky things happening besides hints of it. Hopefully, this will happen in the next book. I honestly could have done without Shahrzad’s father’s parts.
Stories. The tales that Shahrzad told had to make way for the main plot, I understand but those were the first threads that connect Shahrzad and Khalid. I would have liked to have seen more storytelling instances.
Mainly, where’s Irsa? Anybody remember her? Shahrzad’s sister? What’s the point in adding a sister in if there’s only a brief mention of her in the beginning and she disappears forever after?
Poor Tariq. Y’know, I did feel sorry for him in the beginning. Until he turned into this biased, delusioned boyfriend who basically thought Shahrzad belonged to him and he would make it all better.
Even though I had some qualms about how some things were done, I really liked this. The story ended really well (even though it had me picking up pieces of my shattered heart) and left me sobbing for more.
Rating: 4 stars