Shannon Hale has put forth a delightful read. In this tale, based on the Grimm's story, "Maid Maleen", Hale weaves a story set in the Orient of old. The culture and people are brought to life with stunning detail and Dashti, our narrator, is a vivid character with great spirit.I could not put this book down. I read the first half when I should have been sleeping and finished the second half when I should have been doing chores. This is a fantastic read with a beautifully innocent love story, two fantastic heroes, a smattering of fun and woeful side characters, and a heinous villain. IN short it has everything that a good fairytale needs. I hope everyone gets a chance to read this wonderful book.