I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
While I found the start of this second – and last – installment a bit slow, it quickly picks up and sends us on a similarly romantic and dangerous journey as the first book.
I loved that we got to see Shazi and Khalid interacting without the what-ifs of the first book, they are truly devoted to each other, and secure in their relationship, and it was great watching them become more deeply involved now that all the secrets from the first book are out.
I really enjoyed seeing Shazi’s sister take on a bigger role in this book as well. Family has always been a driving force for Shazi, and it was really interesting watching she and her sister navigate a newly complicated relationship, and the blind trust they put in each other. I also enjoyed seeing Irsa come into her own, in her own way. Irsa and Shazi are very different from each other, but they both have the same strength at their core and I loved seeing it displayed in different manners.
The old and new cast of secondary characters were all amazing as well, they brought in different perspectives, new insights, and some crazy plot twists that I don’t think any of us could have come close to guessing. The development of Tariq, the relationship of Jalal/Khalid and Jala/Despina, and the changes of Jahandar were all amazing sub-plots to this epic journey.
Overall, this series was beautiful in is language, diversity, and original take on classic tales. I can’t wait to see what this author churns out next, she will definitely be someone I revisit.