The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.
Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.
The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again
Wow, somehow Renee Ahdieh accomplished something that is rare in my reading experience. She wrote a sequel that I liked better than the first book. This book is the follow up to The Wrath and the Dawn, an Arabian Nights retelling and my thoughts on the first book can be found here.
Something I have found in romance series that I have read is that while I love reading about the build up and the eventual getting together of the romantic leads, often in later installments the romance falls flat and can becomes too sappy for my tastes. And that was a trap I was definitely wary of this book falling into based on our leads behavior towards each other by the end of the first book. But wow did it blow my expectation away on that front. Khalid and Shazi are separated for much of the book, but the times there were together were just so sweet and touching it had me clutching at my heart.
Plot wise I found this book to be much faster paced and a more adventurous plot line than the first book, which I loved. And we got to see more of the magic carpet, the lack of that was one of my main qualms with the first book. I do wish we had seen a little more of the magic temple Shazi went to. I got a taste of it and wanted more!
I also enjoyed being able to get to know more of the side characters better in this novel. We really got to see the relationship between Shazi and her sister, which I thought was wonderfully done. And while I wasn’t a big fan of Tariq in the first novel he really grew on me in this one. I also wasn’t initially a fan of the introduction of Irsa and Rahim as a romantic pair since I was enjoying the action/adventure plot focus, but I did find their story sweet in the end.
The last main thing that really stuck out to me was the female empowerment we saw towards the end when we saw women helping other women. I loved that. I was reading that whole last chunk of the book just screaming in my head, “yes girl, you go”. It was delightful and left me with an almost triumphant feeling as I finished out the story.
All in all a great read. While it was not a *perfect* book I still think it deserves 5/5 stars.