Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Type: YA Retelling
Pages: 388
Other Titles in the Series: The Rose and the Dagger (Book #2)

Summary: One Life to One Dawn. In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

My Review:

You would think that by now I wouldn't go into a book thinking that I won't like it. Authors know what they are doing and I should really just trust them. Okay, let me explain that. This is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, where the reason behind brides being murdered every morning is a mystery. I hate the idea of people falling in love with “monsters,” despite knowing they should not. I went in with that feeling of knowing that they are going to fall in love, dreading the inevitable and yet Ahdieh wrote this retelling so beautifully that I couldn't not root for them! Shahrzad was not helpless, she was not unaware of what Khalid did. In fact, several times she hated herself and what she saw was her traitor heart. It was that awareness that drew me to the character of Shahrzad. Her strength, cunning, wit, and that awareness all make her one of the best characters I have ever read. I devoured this book. But there isn't just one reason why. It was compelling in a way I can't put my finger on, especially because of the whole “falling in love with those you know you shouldn't thing.” But Shahrzad's story, the one she tells Khalid to stay alive and her own story of how she came to tell that story are fascinating.

The point of view of The Wrath and the Dawn is not just of Shahrzad, but multiple perspectives. Readers get a glimpse into how Shahrzad's family and friends are dealing with her new position. How they are dealing with the “loss,” by taking matters into their own hands. Later into the novel we read Khalid's perspective and suddenly things start making sense. I kept turning the pages so that I could discover why. Why did the brides have to die at dawn? How is this being allowed? I needed to know, the suspense was strong enough to keep me up into the wee hours so that could find the answers.

There are subplots that add a richness to this novel that I adored. This is not just a romance. There is that suspense, the mystery that kept me turning pages. But there's also political intrigue and magic. Secrets run rampage and magic is slowly coming into play in ways that the readers don't quite understand yet and leave us begging for the next chapter, the next book.

The setting and language all felt time period appropriate and the research shone through! There was a moment when other leaders from around this world come to see the new Calipha of Khorasan and Shahrzad sees one riding in on a striped black and white animal that looks like a horse. A zebra, of course, but back then they were not widely known. It's little details like that, that people take for granted that she added and it created a depth. There was also a glossary of mostly Arabic terms in the back of the book. I loved the way Ahdieh effortlessly introduced phrases, words, suffixes, and terms of endearments into the story. Reading The Wrath and the Dawn was a much needed glimpse into a world I don't know much about and want to know more of.

I have expressed my wariness of the relationship that evolved in this book, but I did end up liking it. I liked the back and forth of it, even Shahrzad and Khalid were wary of their relationship. We watched them get to know each other while walking on eggshells. We got to watch their resolve towards one another breakdown. It was romantic in a way that wasn't focused on the trope of forbidden love and I was impressed by how Ahdieh handled it. I cannot wait to read the sequel, I want to, no, need to know what is next for Shahrzad and Khalid.