Author: Renee Ahdieh
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. 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.
LOVED THIS BOOK! Now, to be fair, I love reading stories about girls/women in the Middle East; I've always been captivated by the culture, people, and landscape of this vast area. I think that is because the Middle East seems so exotic compared to my fairly boring central Minnesota life.
This novel is the author's take on the story of Shahrazad (One Thousand and One Nights) and her king, who kills each of his new bride's at dawn. Just like the famous tale, Shahrazad does tell stories, but that is not the main focus of the story. It is a love story, which I think most teen girls will like (would not recommend this book to most teen boys), with intrigue, suspense, and romance. (There is even a love triangle.) To be fair, the book, although a love story, is not sappy. Yes, there is romance in the story, but the fun part is trying to figure out the mystery behind Khalid (the king) and learning to like him. Shahrazad is a good person - caring, thoughtful, and strong - and these traits make her a likable character.
When I finished the book, I wanted to scream in frustration. The book didn't end!! I didn't realize at first that there is a second book, The Rose and the Dagger, and it comes out sometime in 2016. I guess good things come to those who wait. Sigh.
Note for teachers and parents: There are some intimate scenes that might be considered inappropriate for younger teens. I like how a reviewer on Amazon describes it: "It is sensual without being vulgar and is appropriate for young adults." I concur.