Whew!  Let me take a breath after finishing this sumptuous love story (though I feel awkward even calling it that).  After a rough start, this retelling of Arabian Nights really sucked me in–I didn’t want to put the book down.  “Just one more chapter,” I’d tell myself.  Commence five more.

We need more books like this.  More diversity, more strong female characters who aren’t a cliche of everything it means to go against the “feminine ideal.”  Shahrzad is intense.  She is calculating, and she is witty.  She is beautiful, but she isn’t conceited.  One thing I also appreciated is that while she was dynamic, she was also somewhat consistent.  Yes, her emotions are raw and real and ever-changing.  Yes, she throws herself head-first into dangerous situations that many people would run from.  But it works for her.

The prologue is vague–the first chapter jumps right in to the action of the story.  Monster Caliph takes new bride each night and murders her the next morning.  Fact.  Shahrzad VOLUNTEERS for this position.   Figuring out why (for both of these) helps the story continue on.  The introduction of Shahrzad’s childhood crush made me fear a stereotypical love triangle (hello, Twilight in the middle east), but Andieh pulled this story off realistically–until the last chapter.  Seriously.  Sudden turns and attempts at cliff-hangers just make me upset.  Wrap up the story.  If you are a good author, I will read more of your writing. Don’t force it in to a series situation.

I understand the financial appeal of writing a series.  Keep the reader hooked, write more books (even if they are unnecessary or poorly written) and sell more books.  But I am so over series.   Give me a good story.  Then move on to the next good story.  Don’t try to tie them all together to keep your audience.  Keep your audience by ensuring you are telling good stories.

All that said, I will go on to read the next book in the series, The Rose and the Dagger.  I like Khalid.  I like Shahrzad.  I really want more from their story.  After trudging through the vauge and difficult to follow first chapters of character jumping and plot development, I expected the ending to wrap itself up more nicely.  My need to know trumps my irritation at being forced in to reading a series.