Shazi is in the desert with her family but surrounded by people who hate the love of her life. Meanwhile, Khalid is fading fast and their country is on the brink of war. Tariq, Shazi’s childhood friend, commands the forces set to destroy the empire but darker forces, and cunning plots are at work. Shazi has to master her powers, save her king, stop a war, and protect her family before they hit the point of no return.
My relationship with book one (review here) was complex. I began with high hopes and then took a downswing and then by the end I loved it. I loved Shazi’s journey and the love story.
I had a similarly complex relationship with this book. But it didn’t end on the same high note. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I respect that Ahdieh chose to stay committed to the storybook feel that she developed, but this story lacked a climax. I wanted the big battle, I wanted the training montage, I wanted Shazi kicking ass and taking names and I didn’t get it.
The dramatic final moment lacked exposition. I should have cried, but I didn’t. I should have grieved, but I didn’t. I should have been shocked, but I wasn’t. I get that some of that was a stylistic choice. Decisions were made during the writing process and it allowed consistency between the two books and style. But, it also prevented me from falling in love with the characters and calling this one of my favorite books.
I wanted a powerful queen rising from the ashes of her fallen empire to fight for the people she loved. I didn’t get her. Instead Shazi goes through all this work and all these trials and in the end the men take care of it. In the end she is the same person she was at the beginning. A woman of decent birth with a modicum of authority who men like because she’s attractive and speaks her mind. She didn’t develop like I wanted.
I’m sure this review is upsetting some people, but I needed to be honest. This book was good, but it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t what I was looking forward to and thus I was disappointed.
I will again, however, commend Ahdieh for picking a style and committing to it. I at least am aware that the things that were lacking were sacrificed for this stylistic choice and thus will give any new work she produces a fair chance.
I give this a 3.
World Development: 5
Main Character: 2
Side Characters: 3
Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen
P.S. Fans, please don’t eviscerate me for this one. If it’s any consolation, I still think this cover is ON POINT.