I am so satisfied, yet so sad… This book was almost everything I could have wished for, and I am so sad this wonderful story is already over, that I wanna re-read this duology straight away. I’m going to miss everything so much; the world, the characters, the magic, the romance.
Let me start this review off by saying that I was a bit hesitant for the first 100 pages or so. I was worried this book wouldn’t live up to my expectations, expectations created by its magnificent predecessor. It was, in fact, slower than the first one and I missed Shahrzad and Khalid’s interactions, banter, and time spent together way too much. However, things picked up, and this story proved itself to be almost equally beautiful as the first instalment of the duology, in a much different, but still very enjoyable, way.
If I only had two words to describe this book, these words would be character development. We saw every character grow, all the pieces fall into place. Even characters I would consider secondary played a significant role in moving and advancing the plot. As for our main characters? They all undergo major character development; alliances are shifted, new opinions are formed, and they all must face their deepest fears and darkest secrets.
As was expected, Ahdieh further explores and addresses magic in this book. And she does so beautifully. She built such a unique, interesting magic system and used it to introduce some really outstanding characters. Magic plays a much more significant role in this book than it did in the previous one and I really enjoyed it. I did, however, find one particular magic storyline to be a bit underdeveloped and I wish it was explored more.
Now, can I just say that Khalid and Shahrzad had me on the verge of tears for the entire book? Their chemistry is palpable as always, their feelings for each other clear as ever, and their love stronger than ever before. I loved how badly they wanted to protect one another, and how much they respected each other’s decisions and boundaries at the same time. In YA specifically we so often see characters overstepping boundaries, keeping secrets, going behind one’s back in an effort to “protect” their partner, that we’ve come to consider it the norm. Well, it’s not, and seeing such a healthy relationship, based on a foundation of love, trust, and mutual support and respect is very important. They were, of course, not the only romance explored – or created – in this book, but they were by far the most interesting one.
My favourite part of the book? Women. Women really shone in it. They were so important in this story, vital for the entire storyline. And not just Shahrzad; Irsa, Despina, and Yasmine, all played an important part in this story and, at the end of day, they were the ones to provide solutions. They helped and supported one another; they were the ones to save the day. I really enjoyed their dynamics and how they succeeded where men failed, proving themselves to be strong and important as hell.
And now, I think it’s time for me to say goodbye. To all these characters I came to love – or hate – , to these excruciatingly vivid and detailed descriptions of food that made my stomach rumble, and to the beautiful pictures of scenery that made this world feel all the more real.