I apparently love retellings — even when I have only the vaguest idea of the original plot.
This retelling was of “1001 Nights,” and I knew roughly that the story was of a bride destined to die in the morning, but she told such great tales each night and left them unfinished so that her husband would let her live until the following night. I looked up the summary of the story when I’d finished to know how much was embellished. It seems there was a very substantial twist in this one.
The king takes a bride every night and kills her at sunrise. The heroine, Shaazi (or Shaarzaad, not sure how to spell that since I listened to it) actually volunteers to be the king’s next bride because her best friend was chosen and murdered, and she seeks revenge. She does employ the traditional ploy to tell intriguing tales which she leaves unfinished, but really that only occupies about two nights. From that point on, she falls in love with the king, and finds that he’s not a monster after all… and yet the girls still died, so instead of enacting her revenge, she instead occupies her time trying to find out what really happened. He falls in love with her too, of course, but there’s a complication: Shaazi has left behind a militaristic boy who loves her, and he comes to find out what she’s learned about the king about 3/4 of the way through the story. Unfortunately he learns of Shaazi’s new and apparently Stockholm-Syndrome-like romance, which presumably inspires the rest of the series.
The romance was necessarily rushed and not terribly believable, and I also had a hard time keeping track of the characters, as they all had names that were unfamiliar to me. I don’t think I’ll read on, but this one did keep my attention through the end at least.
My rating: ****
Language: minimal if at all; can’t recall
Violence: none to speak of
Sexual content: present but very tasteful — mostly it’s a fade to black
Political content: none