I saw this book all over bookstagram, the reviews gush about how great the book is, amazon and goodreads rate it at an almost perfect five. So I caved and I bought the book. I was intrigued by the cover and also the description. Now I wish I had waited to find a cheaper copy instead of paying full price.
What really bothered me about this book is the writing. The story and the characters have so much potential, and are robbed by the lazy writing. I am surprised the reviews are as positive as they are. This book really frustrated me with the writing and that’s one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to actually post this. In fact the fact that Ahdieh is a person of colour and somehow manages to write about her culture so terribly, really disappointed me.
Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Eragon, Lord of The Rings, every great fantasy series borrows from one culture or another, sometimes combining cultures. This book is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, so the cultural setting of the book has Middle Eastern/ South Asian roots. The difference between Ahdieh and other authors is that the former probably spent hours doing their research. I don’t know for a fact that Ahdieh didn’t do her research but it sure seems like she didn’t. Redundant repetitions of words (Talwar sword, sirwal trousers, etc) are littered throughout the book. She barely gives any cultural context to her story, and her character development needs a lot of work.
The stories that Shahrzad narrates to keep herself alive are frankly quite average. If I were the Caliph, I wouldn’t have spared her life. These stories are an integral part of how she survives and I really wish Ahdieh would have put in more effort to actually make these stories more interesting. In fact, I wish she put in more effort with her writing in general. Like I said before, this story had so much potential and is completely robbed by lackluster, uninspired, below average writing.
I will probably read the second part of the book The Rose and The Dagger, simply because I do want to know what she does with the story and also because I want to see if her writing improves at all.