3.5 stars rounded up because the pace is spot-on and the prose is inspired (there are nice quotable passages). However, I think this conclusion doesn't live up to the first book's promise: surely the author has polished her skills, and that much is evident from the writing and the deepened relationship between the main characters, but unfortunately she also fails to deliver the same level tension and several plot threads are wrapped up hastily.
The welcome presence of Isra, who is cast in a supporting role, it’s not enough to detract from the fact that, in broad terms, some important plot points are not further developed to the effect that I felt like reading a story related to the previous book and not its full-fledged continuation.
This shift of perceptions, combined with a thin plot, results into a rather underwhelming experience and that’s no minor qualm.
It’s evident that my expectations played an important role in determining the said experience, so while I was disappointed that there were no particular conflicts or crises nor dedicated sub-plots, all in all I enjoyed the book (hence the rating), particularly the first part. It’s a smooth and quick read: the tones are more mature; Shazi is an outstanding protagonist and so is Khalid; I’ve also liked that the story is about love in its many forms and in the end I was in for a thrill or two; the finale is fitting and that left a good aftertaste.
Bottom line, this is nice book but its underdeveloped potential casts a pall over the series, probably a trilogy format would have worked better for this story and this cast of characters.Destiny was for fools. Shahrzad would not wait for her life to happen. She would make it happen.