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In the thousands & thousands of books I have read, never have I found a retelling of a story so captivating that I have not only read it once but as soon as I purchased all of the published novella's plus the books 1 & 2 (& pre-ordered 3) that I started reading it again. Mrs. Ahdieh brings you deep into her characters lives, you feel what they feel, each one is well developed that each are easily believed to have been the original characters. The story follows so wonderfully that you are trapped and cannot escape until the last word. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this version of the A Thousand and One Nights! Book Hangover 10+ because I'll reread this many times & pre-ordered the next!
This shows us the beginning of Jalal and Despina’s relationship, as well as how the curse on Khalid started.
I think this is the best (and my personal favorite) of the three short stories in this series. It manages to fit in a fair amount of character depth in 37 pages, and we get to see more of Ava, Khalid's first wife.
The only thing that bothered me is that I was a little frustrated with Despina's refusal to admit to liking Jalal. She had valid reasons to be hesitant towards him in the beginning, but I thought their characters evolved enough to where she would be more open to being with him. Of course this was published almost a year after The Wrath and the Dawn so it had to make sense with how they are there, but I just see this a lot in books that have romance and it might be my one of my least favorite tropes.
The Moth and the Flame gives a little bit more background about Despina and Jalal. It also includes the timeline before Shahrzad weds Khalid, prior to the death of a new bride at each dawn. Although Despina is not privy to what's going on behind the scenes, it is entertaining to read about how she met Jalal and the backstory to them from The Wrath and the Dawn.
Where do I begin? There is so much that is horribly wrong with this book! This short story is an estimated 27 pages of the worst writing that I have read in quite some time. Absent are scene settings, character backstory, character development; perceptions of time, emotion or passion which pulls a reader into the story (regardless of length), and, yet, drives the story forward (leaving the reader wanting more). To have examples of excellent writing re: short stories, the author should, perhaps, read "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne (a timeless classic) or ANY short story by Steven King for scene setting, glimpses into a character's psyche as she or he interacts with her or his environment and other characters. Writing classes, some research and proper development on the culture, history, and socio-economic systems of your characters' country, whether actually existing or contrived from an actual country; a good editor, a copy of "The 1001 Arabian Nights" and a copy of a standard on grammar should be ever-present at this author's writing desk. Ms. Ahdieh failed miserably at providing a short story prequel to her "Wrath" series.
I purchased another book ("The Wrath and the Dawn") from the same author at $1.99. Having commenced reading said book on the train to Manhattan this morning, I soon stopped reading at the conclusion of the Prologue. It is equally as horrible. No matter the cost, bypass this author's short story and series books. I recommend, instead, Barbara Taylor Bradford's "A Woman of Substance" and "Hold the Dream" as a glimpse of single-minded female protagonists throughout a family's history in Great Britain and United States of America. Revenge, survival, love, bitterness, mistakes, blessings, curses, identity and inheritance-- the novel has it all. Note, I read Bradford's work at twelve and sixteen. Today's tween, teen, and YA audience should enjoy them both without issue.
I love reading the back story about these two characters, but it only gave you snipets of their back story and would jump ahead sometimes months or years. Would love a book just for them. Hope that we get to see more of them together in the second book.