Review: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

mad bad dangerous to know

Title: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know
Author: Samira Ahmed
Genres: Contemporary, historical fiction
Pages: 208
Publisher: Soho Teen
Review Copy: ARC
Availability: Out now!

Summary: Told in alternating narratives that bridge centuries, the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed traces the lives of two young women fighting to write their own stories and escape the pressure of familial burdens and cultural expectations in worlds too long defined by men.

It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her professor parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: I picked up Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know maybe a month ago, and honestly? I’m still thinking about it. It’s a unique and inspiring story that manages to pull off something incredible. Also, that cover? *chef’s kiss*

In Mad, Bad & Dangerous to know, Khayyam Maquet is spending August in Paris — but it’s not exactly a carefree holiday. Her sort-of ex-boyfriend is ghosting her, and she may have lost her chance to get into her dream college. Her passion is art history, and when she encounters a descendant of Alexandre Dumas, she seizes the opportunity to unravel a mystery of art history. Khayyam’s story is interspersed with the story of Leila, a woman from the 19th-century who is the subject of a famous painting. A common theme is the importance of telling untold stories — in this case, Leila’s.

I read all of Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know on the plane, and the intersection of the modern day with historical fiction kept me fascinated the whole time. There’s something for everyone: Romance, nerdy art history, a summer in Paris, and a slowly unraveling mystery. The scope of the plot is definitely ambitious, but it really works.

Like its title, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know is something special. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Recommendation: Buy it now!