My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.
Beware spoilers ahead!
When I had heard about this short story I was excited. I liked Despina and Jalah when I read The Wrath and the Dawn. I wanted to know when they first started interacting with each other. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this story!
The book begins in Despina’s point of view. She was just been promoted to Handmaiden. She’s to be Ava’s handmaiden. Despina has noticed that Ava doesn’t speak a lot. More often than not she’s day dreaming. She hasn’t interacted with Despina. Ava has her own set of servants and she keeps close to them.
Despina is arranging some of Ava’s clothes with the help of another maid. The two talk while they sort the clothes. When Despina picks up a handful of clothes, she hears a tear. She sets the clothes down and begins to inspect the skirt. Needing more light she takes the skirt outside to inspect it.
While looking at the tear she hears someone approaching. It turns out to be Jalah. This is Despina’s first time talking with the Captain of the Royal Guard. But despite this she knows of his reputation. Jalah is known for flirting with tons of girls. His reputation makes Despina uncomfortable and she tries to ignore. They have an awkward conversation. Jalah tries to hard to attempt to flirt with Despina. And Despina brushes him off.
I was surprised that I actually enjoyed this! I got some laughs while reading Despina and Jalah’s interactions. It was nice to find out a little more about Ava. And man did I really feel for Ava. I’m starting to wonder whether Ava actually had depression. I liked reading about the interaction that Despina and Ava had!
Much to my surprise the writing style felt too wordy. There were a bunch of needless descriptions. I found this surprising considering that I never felt this way when I read The Wrath and the Dawn. It was almost as if the author did it to add more words.
While the interaction between Jalah and Despina was funny, I never really felt the tension. Pretty early on in the short story they started having a secret relationship. This might be because it was so short. This book also shows you more ways on how stupid Khalid was when he was married to Ava. I’m surprised that he never really interacted with her and it was so obvious that she was hurting. This isn’t a flaw I’m just pointing it out. Nonetheless this was still fun to read!
Overall this was a good book. I recommend it to fans of the series.