Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, YA\
Blurb:One Life to One Dawn.
Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
Me: Such a beautifully woven story that tells a tale unlike any other.
The Ups: I loved this book at first sight, mostly because it had a female person of color as a protagonist, but also because it was set in the mystic, entrancing times of caliphs and palaces. I was a little unsure about the love lines and what I was sure would become a love triangle...but it turned out to be surprisingly well-developed.
The first thing I absolutely adored was the writing style. Everything was described in such a lush, intricate way and I felt as if I was really there in that castle, or in the gardens, smelling the plates of scrumptious food or the aromatic flowers. Even in moments where the plot was still building, I was constantly intrigued by the world-building.
Shazi was a great main character. She was headstrong and noble, and gave everyone around her an illusion of confidence and strength. However, she was constantly thinking about how to carry her plan out and I think that inner dialogue is what made her complex and interesting. She knew that her head and her heart had different ideas at times, and watching her grapple with that- I think that made her ten times more stronger, in my opinion.
I think the plot was very interesting in that the reader got a general idea of what was going on, but there were still a lot of questions left unanswered. The distinct relationships between all the characters, like Khalid and Jalal, and Despina and Shazi, along with the brief meetings with Tariq and Yasmine, built so much connection between the reader and all of the characters. I think the author built up the friendships and the romance gorgeously.
The Downs: In spite of the wonder of this first book, I'm not super sure if I would voluntarily read the sequel. I think it has to do with the ending of this novel. It was very action-packed and hanging-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, but I didn't like how it ended with minimal closure. It was not enough of a "cliffhanger" to make me reach for the next one. I feel like if it has just wrapped up, I would have been more intrigued.
Overall: Incredible world-building along with a cast of complex characters! A bit of a sudden ending.
Rating: 5 kisses!