Beautiful. Simply and utterly so. That’s about the only word that befits this masterpiece.
Hullo my lovely readers!
I come to you from faraway lands with yet another tale to tell. More like, one to rally.
“It’s inevitable. When you meet the one who makes you smile as you’ve never smiled before, cry as you’ve never cried before… there is nothing to do but fall.”
In a blazing retelling of the known classic A Thousand and One Nights, Renée Ahdieh (bless her soul), brought to life a compelling story of what it means to love, lose yourself to it, and come to terms with the wars that surround you.
In a land bathed in sand, lies a boy-king that inflicts pain upon a new family with each passing dawn. Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan, the King of Kings, marries a girl each night, only to have her dead come the following dawn.
Such a heart-wrenching tragedy befalls sixteen-year-old Shahrzad, when her childhood best friend, Shiva, is chosen to marry the monstrous king and thus, die the following dawn. Seeking comfort in her sense for vengeance and revenge, Shahrzad volunteers to be the next bride, only that she also vows to live to see the morning sun that follows her wedding.
“I will live to see tomorrow’s sunset. Make no mistake. I swear I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes.
And I will kill you.
With my own hands.”
Putting her plan into action, supplied with the sheer force of hatred she felt for the murderer who dared call himself king, Shahrzad beguiles him by narrating a tale woven by her entrancing abilities as a storyteller. Intrigued, Khalid listened as she built a world of wonders and possibilities in front of him, with words so carefully chosen and picked that they left no room for anything but bewitchment. Wickedly, however, she stopped midway with the threat of the rising sun, and when he demanded that she continues her tale, she promises that she would–
Only that she would do so the following night. If she was allowed another night.
And surprising both himself and her, Khalid agrees. Just one more night.
Shahrzad managed more than just that, though. Night and night again, she sat across him, narrating tales long left untold, ones built from her imaginations and other built from messages she wanted to convey. Slowly, however, something that she had definitely not taken into account happened: Khalid, the murderous, cold-blooded killer she had vowed to kill, didn’t seem as monstrous as she had always believed he was. The monster was just a boy. A boy with stories of his own. A tale cloaked in darkness. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love; not just with the mystery behind his fierce ember eyes, but with the words he spoke so carefully, with the actions he took so lovingly, and with every bit of the Caliph she had sworn she’d end. But how could she? Despite her beating heart, she knows that such feelings are nothing but a great betrayal and dishonour to her best friend. To the people she loved and held dear.
But what was Shahrzad to do, living with someone she cared for more than she could ever let on? She knew that the truth wasn’t as simple and clear as it seemed; she knew that there must’ve been something more to the story, and so, she resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. She’d have to face the mighty Caliph of Khorasan. The King of Kings. Her beautiful monster.
But here’s the question: would their love be greater than the hate? Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
God.. Only upon rereading this was I reminded as to why this wonderful novel became my ‘Favourite’. And believe me, this title has never been in my rankings. I’d talk about the author’s writing style, but in truth, it’s more of a painting style, really. It was utterly entrancing. Captivating. Intoxicating in a way that only made you drown and not want to resurface, for there was such beauty in ever fold of her pages that you just couldn’t leave the story behind. And her characters? They were a story on their own, and I assure you, you’d want to read this book for at least getting a chance at a glimpse at Shahrzad’s thoughts; for a look into Khalid’s head and for just a taste of his words, for they truly ring in your mind long after you’ve closed the book.
“When I was a boy, my mother would tell me that one of the best things in life is the knowledge that our story isn’t over yet. Our story may have come to a close, but your story is still yet to be told.
Make it a story worthy of you.”
Read it. Read it, read it, read it. And tell me what you thought of this beautiful story of hate, revenge, secrets, the love for power, and the power to love.
Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)
PS. I wanted to vote for the Blogger Awards this year and had a draft at the ready and everything, only to realise that I didn’t know enough people in the community round here to properly vote. So maybe with the year to come, I’d be able to vote after knowing more people in this wonderful realm of words painted on screens.