In a masterful retelling of The Arabian Nights, Renee Ahdieh opens an exciting world to her readers. Although the book is rooted in fantasy, the setting is obviously Persian, and it has all the beauty and mystery of another time in that place.
There’s quite a bit of romance, but thankfully the reader is spared the typical exercise of knowing that both parties are being ridiculous and blind, and that they must get together at some point. One never knows what’s going to happen, and the ending is by no means sure. Non-stop action and intrigue make this book impossible to put down.
Ahdieh’s characters are real, heroic, and deeply flawed, which makes them all the more interesting. The story is unique and compelling. I look forward to finding out what happens to these engaging characters in the sequel.
Profanity/Language: 18 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities (3 in reference to hell as a location); 22 derogatory names; 4 anatomical words.
Violence/Gore: A character is known to marry and kill a bride every night; a character is burned by magic (not seriously); a story is told about a brutal fight (no gore); a character tells a story about fighting off attackers (no gore); a character is strung up with a noose and released at the last minute after a fight; an attempt is made to poison a character; a story is told of a person being dragged by the hair; characters fistfight (2 times–no injuries);a character shoots a person in the wrist; characters practice sword fighting and archery; a character deliberately cuts his hand open with a knife (2 times; a character hits another character in the face, knocking her down; a character is held hostage with a knife at her throat; in an extended fight (5 pages), a character slits his own throat, other characters are killed with knives, and a character is injured by a knife; two stories are told of suicide with minor details; in a great storm, an entire city is destroyed (no known casualties); a character is known to have injured several people in fights; a character kills an attacker with an arrow; a character is shot in the chest with an arrow (and survives).
Sex/Nudity: A character disrobes on her wedding night–no details; married characters are known to have had sex–the narrative enters immediately afterward (3 times); characters flirt; a character recalls kissing another character; a character is naked in front of her husband–no details; characters embrace (some innuendo); a story is told of a person who was disloyal to her husband (no detail); brief innuendo; a character caresses another character’s lips–kissing is considered; characters kiss (5 times); characters consider lovemaking (no detail); a character is pregnant out of wedlock; a character caresses another character’s face; characters embrace (5 times); a character kisses another character’s hand; married characters kiss, touch, and embrace with minor details–they clearly plan to have sex, but are interrupted; characters kiss and embrace.
Mature Subject Matter:
War, betrayal, death of family members, suicide.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Wine is consumed socially.