3 Things About This Book
| Cinderella Retelling | Forbidden Romance | Rich in Purple Prose |
As someone who loves mythology and retellings, I was very excited for This Woven Kingdom as it’s marketed as “Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology”. But, boy oh boy, the clashing empires and Persian mythology aspects? Misleading AF because the reality is that the empires aren’t clashing yet but they will start after 400+ pages. And, the Persian mythology part? Why, it’s only the presence of Iblees (also known as Iblis, a well-known supernatural entity found the Quran and a few other manuscripts) and jinn, and that’s it. Everything else in this book is a Cinderella story all over again.
And, I’m sorry, but it’s not even a good Cinderella story. Alizeh, our female protagonist is destined to be Queen, a jinn and hiding as a servant for her own safety. But, despite the hardships she has faced, Alizeh has little common sense and is poorly developed as a character. She runs her mouth the moment she feels a little comfortable (for which, she can be declared enemy of the empire because those comments are treacherous). She, as educated as she is and as much as she was raised to be the rightful Queen, doesn’t even know how to observe quietly before voicing out her opinions.
Kamran, on the other hand, is just as poorly developed, if not worse. He’s a ball of anger issues, misogyny, thinks he’s better and smarter than most, and loves to complain about the fine clothes he has to wear. Most of this, I can close an eye to because he’s the crown prince and allergic to the gold in his clothes, but the paragraphs detailing his anger and complaints concerning everything else is a chore to read.
Admittedly, I knew what I was going into when I saw the forbidden romance tag on this book so I wasn’t bothered by the insta-love, the typical romance plot and how Alizeh and Kamran couldn’t stop pining over each other. But, I’m also going to come out and say that all of the romance could’ve been better had the characters not been so flat. (Out of all the relationships here, I think that the best written one is the one between Kamran and his grandfather—and they aren’t exactly on the best of terms with each other too.)
Moreover, the narrative for This Woven Kingdom is so rich in purple prose that those moments of longing become ridiculous. In fact, the deeply rich purple prose eclipsed the plot, the characters and the romance. On one hand, I appreciated the strong imagery. On the other, I couldn’t lose myself in the typicality of forbidden romance because the purple prose was just very strong, much long-winded, so wow. I got so bored and basically skimmed all the dialogue-less paragraphs after the halfway mark.
Anyway, I did like that the action picked up in the final quarter of the book and that the betrayals and revelations were written well. I could do without the majority of the waffling but then again, it’s not like I didn’t just skip those parts while reading. Everything considered, This Woven Kingdom is an alright read. Nothing new or fresh, though as long as you don’t expect too much, it’s not bad. I look forward to the sequel and seeing what happens next after the cliffhanger here.
Thank you so much Pansing for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review! This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi is available at all good bookstores.