I enjoyed this book a great deal, particularly since we had read the traditional version of the story in my World Literature class. The setting is fabulous, with luscious descriptions of the colors, artwork, smells, and sounds of an ancient and exotic Middle Eastern past. The romance is slow to build, but believable (or relatively so, set as it is in an unbelievable world). There are some interesting side characters and several mysteries to be explored.
Most of all, I love a re-imagining of a classic piece of World Literature. Most of my students deemed the Caliph of the traditional tale "the worst of the worst" when it came to terrible male protagonists. So I like imagining that there could be some explanations for his behavior that we might not know from the historic version.
I wasn't crazy about the ending. While most of the book was fairly slow paced, giving us plenty of time to immerse ourselves in this interesting world with these characters, suddenly there is a flurry of activity, some of which I found confusing, leading to an abrupt conclusion--or, non-conclusion, since things are left up in the air to be resolved in the sequel. I wasn't expecting that, and felt like I would have been satisfied if they had just tied things up in one book. But we will see what author Renée Ahdieh (who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and now lives in Charlotte) has up her sleeve for the coming book, The Rose and the Dagger (to be published in 2016).